Turned Away: A Crisis of Missouri's Domestic Violence Shelters

Joan Sisco, of Springfield, is one of thousands of women and children who sought shelter at one of Missouri's domestic violence shelters, but were told there was no room. Now, she is homeless.
Credit Jennifer Davidson / KSMU

Missouri's domestic violence shelters had to say, "Sorry, no room" more than 21,000 times last year to victims trying to flee their abusers, according to the Missouri Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. That's because most of those shelters are already bursting at the seams. Where are these victims going instead, and what can we do as a community to bring these numbers down? 

You can hear our five-part series by clicking on the stories below.

Jeremiah Gill, KSMU

As we’ve been reporting all week, Missouri domestic violence shelters said, “Sorry, no room,” more than 21,000 times last year to women and children seeking refuge from their abusers.  That’s because the shelters were full. In this final segment of our five-part series, “Turned Away: a Crisis of Missouri’s Domestic Violence Shelters,” KSMU’s Jennifer Davidson looks at what wider community can do to solve this problem going forward.

Jennifer Davidson, KSMU

Greene County has already seen over 1,300 ex-parte orders of protection filed this year because of adult abuse. In this segment of our series, “Turned Away: A Crisis of Missouri’s Domestic Violence Shelters,” KSMU’s Jennifer Moore look at Missouri law regarding domestic violence, and why these cases are often difficult to prosecute.

James River Church facebook page

28-year-old Brandi is flipping through children’s books at Christos House, the domestic violence shelter north of West Plains. We’re using only her first name to ensure her safety.

“Let’s see, we’ve got ‘Star Wars: the Clone Wars.’ And we’ve got ‘Jackrabbit Goalie,’ ‘At Daddy’s on Saturdays,’ ‘March of the Penguins,” she says, reading some of the book titles.

Harmony House facebook page

Missouri’s domestic violence shelters are almost all operating at full capacity:  they had to reject women and children seeking shelter more than 21,000 times last year.  In today’s part of our series, “Turned Away,” KSMU’s Jennifer Davidson looks at the funding for Missouri’s shelters, and how that money is being spent.

Jennifer Davidson, KSMU

62-year-old Joan Sisco of Springfield is doing her best to get comfortable on a donated couch.   But her attempt is futile: her upper body is mostly purple and brown from her boyfriend’s July 4 attack. That’s the night she received multiple blows because she served another man a cup of coffee.

We’re at the Respite Care shelter for homeless women with medical needs, which operates under the umbrella of The Kitchen, Inc. Most nights, Joan’s either at Safe to Sleep, an overnight shelter for homeless women, or sleeping in her car behind a storage shed.