Harbor House: more than a safe place for those dealing with domestic violence

Keri McGregor is program director at Harbor House, a ministry of Catholic Charities. A sign welcoming clients is behind her.(Advance photo)

Domestic violence is a complicated issue.

The reasons a person chooses to stay in or leave an unhealthy relationship are as varied as the people who find themselves being abused by someone they care about.

Keri McGregor, program director at Harbor House, a ministry of Catholic Charities, said that is why the case managers and counselors at Harbor House Domestic Violence Shelter work one-on-one with survivors. They help each person develop a safety plan and strategy just for them.

“It’s important that we are supportive and caring; there is no room for us to be judgmental in any way,” McGregor said. “Each person and case is unique, making each plan unique. In many cases, it takes the survivor seven attempts at leaving the abuser before the relationship is truly over.”

Harbor House has provided advocacy services for domestic violence for 26 years. Best known for providing emergency shelter, McGregor explained that Harbor House is much more than that. Through outreach services, including safety planning, protection order assistance, and counseling, Harbor House helps more than 8,500 people a year.

Harbor House also helps those who don’t need shelter

“Having an emergency shelter in our community for those in imminent danger is a blessing as it allows a safe place for women and children to stay so they can begin to heal, get their feet under them, and access the resources that they need to move their life forward,” McGregor said. “An even bigger blessing is that Harbor House can help thousands of other survivors who do not need a safe house, yet seek counseling, safety planning, and support through our outreach services.”

Domestic violence happens every day in our community, she said, adding that it occurs at the same rate in all socio-economic groups, races, and faiths. It is a pattern of behavior in which one relationship partner tries to control the other through violence, intimidation or threats. The abuse can be physical, emotional, or mental.

McGregor said that seeing first hand the physical, emotional and mental damage that one human is capable of inflicting on another is difficult, but is balanced by witnessing the courage and resolve shown by survivors. Equally challenging for her and her staff of case managers, counselors, and support staff is to see what domestic violence does to the children who witness it.

“Too many children in our communities witness domestic violence,” McGregor said, adding that this can do significant emotional and mental harm to their young lives. “Our counselors help these children work through their experiences to give them a foundation for a happy, healthy life.

“This will help break the cycle of violence that is often passed down from generation to generation,” she said.

Need protection?

If you or someone you care about is in an unhealthy relationship, there is help available 24/7. Call Harbor House at (316) 263-6000.

Kendra Scott Gives Back

Kendra Scott, 1423 N. Webb, Suite 117, and Harbor House are co-hosting a Give Back Party from 4:30-6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Scott will donate 20 percent of all proceeds sold during the event to Harbor House. They will also feature a special necklace in honor of Harbor House.