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New Beginning Center Offers Support to Victims of Domestic Violence

By S. Mathur

Domestic violence in the US is a harsh reality, though most people are not aware of the extent of the problem. Mark Ford, Director of Development and Communications at the New Beginning Center in Garland, TX tells the numbers: "Domestic violence affects one out of every four women and girls in the United States. In Texas, more than 3 million women will face some form of domestic abuse or violence in her lifetime. Sadly, the violence is trending upward. In its report for 2014, released in October 2015, the Texas Council on Family Violence reported 132 women killed."

The New Beginning Center's mission is to provide education, prevention and intervention programs and services to those affected by domestic violence. It provides "free services that allow access to proper care for survivors from any socioeconomic status in a safe, caring environment," says Ford.

These services include full support to families impacted by domestic abuse, with a 24-hour emergency hotline, a 33-bed shelter, intervention services and case management, financial literacy programs and transitional housing to help them get back on their feet. To date, the Center has provided shelter to 23,311 adults and children, and non-residential services such as counseling and legal advocacy to another 61,119. The emergency hotline has answered a total of 185,373 calls.

The problem affects children in the home as well as the spouse, as they are abused and neglected at a much higher rate - a staggering 1500% - in homes where domestic violence happens than the national average. And children are the target of domestic abuse themselves, says Ford, "More than 11,885 children suffered physical abuse in Texas alone in 2012."

The Battering and Intervention Prevention Program and outreach programs in partnerships with local school districts build community education and awareness of the problem.

As "the only designated domestic violence agency in the northeast sector of Dallas County, New Beginning Center serves Dallas, Richardson, Garland, Mesquite, Rockwall, Rowlett and Sachse," according to Ford, the Center's staff and volunteers have their hands full: "Thanks to our incredible community partners last year, we provided transitional housing for 61 people who would otherwise be homeless. Our shelter served more than 400 people fleeing violent and abusive homes. Victim outreach services provided more than 1,000 counseling and development sessions for adults in addition to specialized childcare and counseling for children. In addition, New Beginning Center Community Educators worked with more than 8,000 middle school and high school teens, engaging them in programs that teach respect and boundaries."

Volunteers help out in all aspects of the Center's functioning, from administrative, housekeeping and handyman tasks to fundraising, running the Center's thrift shop and working on special events. Ford says that the Center's work has been supported by the community "Yes, the community has been very supportive and we continue to work with civic and community leaders to conduct outreach and build support. We host fundraisers and other events to help us reach our financial goals. Our web site provides more specific information on supporters and events."

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