The Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) has been serving victim-survivors of intimate partner violence in the Iowa City area for more than 40 years.
Like many non-profits, the ongoing pandemic has added many challenges to DVIP’s work in the community.
Iowa City Moms recently spoke with DVIP Director of Community Engagement Alta Medea-Peters. She shared information about the organization’s mission, common misconceptions about domestic violence, and information about its 24th annual Souper Bowl fundraiser.
Tell us a bit about the history and mission of DVIP.
The Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) provides emergency services, comprehensive support, and advocacy services for adult and youth victims of intimate partner violence (also known as domestic violence or dating violence), stalking, and trafficking. We work closely with the community, focusing on immediate and long term safety, and empowerment. Finding support and refuge when you aren’t safe in your own home or intimate relationship can be a struggle.
DVIP serves eight Iowa Counties (Cedar, Des Moines, Henry, Iowa, Johnson, Lee, Van Buren, and Washington) and its services are free and confidential, including a 24-hour hotline and 24-hour safe shelter, advocacy services with the criminal justice and human services systems, housing assistance, peer-based counseling, and support groups, transitional housing, and prevention education. DVIP provides information and resources while victims and their families explore the impact of this violent crime and consider the alternatives for their safety and well-being.
Our major objectives include:
- Ensuring victims have access to immediate safety
- Problem solving and resource mining that diminishes the barriers victims face
- Trauma-informed care that respects and understands the impact of domestic violence
What are the biggest challenges your organization faces when providing service to your clients?
The largest challenges that DVIP faces when providing services to victim-survivors changes over the years but the primary one would be consistent funding. In 2013, DVIP’s service area doubled and forced our funding streams to become more dependent on federal and state funds, which are often cut dramatically. In 2017, DVIP experienced a 23 percent cut in state funds, which forced DVIP to close some of the rural outreach offices. Through the support of local communities and businesses we were able to reopen them.
During the pandemic the funding challenges continue. Many more victim-survivors are calling for emergency sheltering since they cannot seek refuge with friends and family as they could before COVID-19. With our shelter being at capacity, our advocates have been working tirelessly to find apartments and hotels to house additional families who need our help. DVIP has spent 76 percent more in sheltering costs in the last eight months than we did in 2019 during the same period of time.
What are some common misconceptions about intimate partner violence?
There are a few incredibly dangerous misconceptions that the Domestic Violence Intervention Program works to educate the community about:
- That “it can’t happen to me, it can’t happen in my community, it can’t happen in my neighborhood . . .” Domestic violence/intimate partner abuse can actually happen to anyone and anywhere regardless of socioeconomic level, religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation.
- That “all domestic violence is physical . . . ” According to the United Nations, domestic violence is described “as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.” DVIP assists those that have experienced any type of abuse listed above and all services are free and confidential.
- That “If someone was being abused they could just leave” . . . In reality, it is incredibly difficult for victim-survivors to leave an abusive situation. A victim-survivor will often stay out of fear for their lives, their children, or their pets. Abusers will threaten, or harm to maintain control. In addition to the physical threat victims often lack resources for food, childcare, and housing (95 percent of victims experience financial abuse). The most dangerous time for a victim-survivor is after they leave, 70 percent of murdered victims by their abuser occurs after they leave their abusive situation, and they are on average stalked for 18 months following their escape.
Tell us about DVIP’s Souper Bowl fundraiser.
The “Souper Bowl” is our largest annual fundraising event and now more than ever those most vulnerable in our community need your help!
Since May, DVIP has seen a 28 percent increase in calls to our hotline and the need is not slowing down. The “Souper Bowl” was created by our current Executive Director, Kristie Fortmann-Doser, to challenge the myth that more violence occurs against women around the NFL Super Bowl. Violence against women, men, and children happens every day. One in four women and one in seven men will be affected by intimate partner abuse in their lifetime. Last year, DVIP served 1,900 survivors and provided over 25,000 nights of safety.
We have reinvented our annual fundraising event to keep you, our volunteers, and staff the safe during COVID-19. While we will miss your smiling faces and helping you find the perfect bowl this year, we know that you will be happy to skip the lines and enjoy your favorite soups in your 24th Annual commemorative soup mug.
Tickets are available until February 15, 2021.
For more information on DVIP’s services, visit the DVIP website.