MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Denise Hill with Branches of Monroe County is excited about the non-profit's new domestic violence shelter. It has space for up to 20 women and children. Until now, those trying to get away from abusive relationships had nowhere to go close to home.
"There are great domestic violence shelters out of county. They're not a viable resource many times for our women who often have no transportation, they have children, they may be employed - they'd have to leave their employment," said Hill.
Branches is fixing up the five bedroom, three bathroom facility. The location is secret so women and children can be secure as they start their new lives.
Jill Cooley is a former victim of domestic violence. She was in the relationship for eight years, and wishes the shelter had been an option for her.
"A lot of ladies stay in the situation because they don't have anywhere to go and you get threatened a lot. And this - your kids can come with you, your kids are safe, your animals are safe - you don't have anything to worry about," said Cooley.
Hill said women and children will be able to stay at the shelter for up to 60 days, and will then be able to move to Branches' transitional housing. The shelter will have counselors and a social worker to help them overcome abuse.
"Many, many times in a domestic violence situation, a man is in total control. It is a power-control struggle. So women have very little input in terms of managing the money and so forth. They're held under pretty tight reins," said Hill.
That's why she said they'll learn life skills while staying at the shelter, including things like budgeting, cooking, parenting and nutrition skills and how to better communicate with others.
Jill Cooley said those skills are invaluable:
"There is a better life out there for your and your children. And every woman deserves it and you are good enough," she said.
Branches said it will be done fixing up the shelter in about three weeks, but it still needs to raise $20,000 for the social worker's salary before it can officially open. After operating for a year, the shelter will be eligible for federal funds.
If you'd like to donate, you can call Branches at (423) 442-8644 or mail checks to:
Branches of Monroe County
PO Box 64
Madisonville, TN 37354.
You can also stop by Branches' two clothing stores at 106 Main Street in Madisonville 10-4 pm Tuesday through Saturday.