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Family Violence Center Begins New Era

One of the oldest and largest programs tackling family violence in the state is making a few changes and it happens to be taking place right here in Springfield. Our Justin Lux has the report.

The Family Violence Center in Springfield was established in 1976. It began serving victims of domestic violence just five years after the first shelter in the world was opened in England.

Now the shelter is rebranding itself as “Harmony House” in an attempt to build on the already sterling legacy of the center and take their services to the next level.

“We really need to let the survivors of domestic violence in our community know that we do care about them, that we’re here to help, that we hear them, and that we believe them.”

Rodney Dwyer is the executive director of Harmony House. He says that the program will continue to provide many of the old services such as a safe shelter and child care, but they are beginning to really focus on prevention as well.

“The prevention component of this is really the piece that we’ve really been concentrating on more recently and will continue to in the future as well, and that’s trying to prevent domestic violence before it occurs,” Dwyer says.

Dwyer explains that prevention is key to combating the issue of domestic violence. He said those prevention efforts will include speaking to young people on what constitutes a healthy relationship. In 2009, the center provided almost 25,000 safe bed nights and is well on pace to exceed that number in 2010.

With Greene County being the second highest in incidents of domestic violence in Missouri, the center hopes to help those in abusive situations establish a violence free life.

For KSMU News, I’m Justin Lux.