Domestic Violence Victims short on Shelter space

October was Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Month. This display of victim silhouettes was placed at Central Wyoming College. Wyotoday.com photo by Ernie Over

The Fremont County Alliance Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault is asking for the community’s help to build a new shelter according to a report from Wyoming Public Media.

Between the alliance’s shelter in Riverton and the brand new Red Paint Alliance shelter in Fort Washakie, there are fewer than 20 beds for domestic abuse victims in all of Fremont County. The alliance’s shelter coordinator Kathy Treybig said that’s not nearly enough to keep up with the community’s needs. Plus, the Riverton shelter is about 100 years old.

“It has served us very well, but it’s not handicapped-accessible. To better serve our clients, we need to update and modernize,” Treybig said.

The shelter’s five bedrooms are on the second floor, and accessible only by two steep staircases. Treybig said that means clients with certain disabilities and those who arrive with injuries need to be sheltered in hotels, which is not the safest or most cost-effective option.

A local architect is working on preliminary sketches for a new shelter. The alliance’s plan is for that facility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and include more individual units, which will also be pet-accessible.

“Pets are often used by batterers to keep their victims in place. We’ve seen them kill the pets, they’ll abuse them. A lot of times our victims won’t leave because of their pets. So, we want to make sure they can bring their pets with them,” Treybig said.

The alliance estimates that it will cost around $750,000 to demolish the old shelter and build a new one in its place. Treybig said they’ll look for grant opportunities, but rely largely on community fundraising, including a holiday season raffle of a resort vacation in Mexico.

“I know that Fremont County is not the wealthiest, but it helps for the community to invest in the community to help those that are in need and transitioning out of a violent circumstance,” Treybig said.

Fundraising efforts began this month with the alliance’s annual “Purple Ball,” which Treybig called a success. The alliance hopes to raise the money over the next two years.

Reported by By Savannah Maher