Local domestic violence shelters seeking help

Data pix.

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — New data from the Memphis Police Department shows more than 11,000 people have been a victim of domestic violence this year as of August.

But many of the people trying to help them say the city's shelters stay full, and they are putting up a fight for funding.

Wanda Taylor opened up a home to women in need.

"We have housed women who have literally slept on a bus stop or slept under bridges. One lady ate out of a garbage can. We've housed women who have been in dark places before," she said.

She once found herself in those same dark places.

"I was a broken girl when I was little. My dad wasn't in my life. I'm getting emotional," Taylor said while holding back tears. "I watched my mom be abused a whole lot as a child."

She says she first tried cocaine, alcohol and marijuana at 11, and at 13 found herself in and out of abusive relationships.

Wanda Taylor had a difficult childhood. Now, she tries to help women in need.

"Then I became a teen mom when I was 15. I struggled a great deal trying to raise my baby, and I dropped out of school when I was 17. By the time I turned 18, I was in and out of the justice system," she said.

Taylor said at 21, she found God and started to go to counseling. Five years later, she went back to high school and on to college.

"I learned I don't have to stay bound to all of the infliction and all the bad things that happened in my world," she said.

She wants other women to understand that. In 2013, she launched Ladies in Need Can Survive, or LINCS, where she helps domestic violence survivors.

In addition to providing shelter for up to a year, she gets them into counseling, rehab, helps them get a job or go back to school.

All things she says these women are desperate for, but there's not enough places willing to help.

We asked if she thought there were enough shelters in Memphis right now.

"There's not. No ma'am. Not with, every shelter is full. I get that every time a woman calls here looking for a shelter," said Taylor.

Priscilla Blackmon agreed. She's the housing director for the Family Safety Center, which helps domestic violence and their families. Along with LINCS, it's one of a handful of places that offer long-term shelter and support.

"We are trying to help them get out of these dangerous situations, and some get out on their own but they aren't able to sustain it. We need to be there to help them sustain it," she said.

The Memphis Police Department reports more than 17,000 people were victims of domestic violence in 2017 and about the same in 2018. So far this year, there have been more than 11,000.

 

Of those victims, more than two-thirds reported some kind of assault, and what's even more unnerving, Memphis Police documented hundreds went back to their abuser.

"I think we really need to speak to our elected officials to see where is the money? I'm not saying program us to death. I'm saying there needs to be more housing for victims," said Blackmon.

Back at LINCS, Taylor said she's trying to open a second shelter by next year. It's just her goal got a little harder to meet.

"We were only awarded $5,000," she said.

That $5,000 she's talking about came from the Memphis City Council's Community Initiative grant.

Last year, she received $20,000.

"We had three separate days of hearings," said City Councilman Martavious Jones.

He explained this year more organizations applied for the grants. If they approved every one, it would total $7 million.

City documents we obtained show the council handed out about $2.5 million compared to about $3.1 million last year.

"If we opened it up widely, we wouldn't have any money to spend on trash pickup or any of the services the city provides," said Jones.

Taylor believes her services are important too. That's why she's now looking at other grant opportunities. She's determined to stay open.

"We win some and lose some. My goal is to win women's hearts," she said.

Taylor says she`s helped nearly 60 women from across the city, and she`s had a 60% success rate.

The director of LINCS says she's helped nearly 60 women across the city, with a 60% success rate.

To find out more about LINCS, visit their website: http://www.ladiescan.org/home.aspx

If you'd like to help Taylor's efforts to open a second shelter: https://www.gofundme.com/f/wanda039s-campaign-for-ladies-in-need-can-survive

If you or anyone you know is being abused, call the Family Safety Center's 24-hour crisis line at 901-249-7611.

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