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YWCA Missoula advocates highlight domestic violence resources

Posted at 5:05 PM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-13 19:25:24-04

MISSOULA — October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. There are advocates in Montana that work year-round to help domestic violence survivors get the help they need.

“Since we’ve been open here, for about a year in a half, we’ve been full or nearly full,” said programs manager Becky Margolis with YWCA Missoula.

She said the YWCA provides five different programs that are aimed to end domestic and sexual violence, helping unhoused families and offering
programs to educate the community about youth and racial justice.

“In Montana 1 in 4 women are impacted by domestic violence but it might even be higher than that, and most or everyone is either directly impacted by domestic violence or knows somebody,” Margolis said.

Pathways Program manager Lyndayle Mattis said thousands of survivors receive help from the YWCA every year. According to the advocates, success starts by just walking through their doors or calling the 24-hour crisis line.

“A lot of times women don't know that they’re experiencing domestic violence,” Mattis said. “Something just feels not right to them. So just calling our crisis line, speaking with an advocate, talking about their situations, we’re really giving them the tools themselves to make the decision for themselves.”

Mattis has worked at the YWCA for more than six years, and she also identifies as a domestic violence survivor.

Lyndayle Mattis: “I know that for me, it was just somebody that walked into my life and helped me through it one day,” Mattis said. “I never forgot how I was able to get out of my situation, so I've always wanted to give back and help other women”

The YWCA provides year-round resources for men, women, children and families, but one demographic is disproportionately impacted.

“I refer to the survivors as she and abusers as he, because that’s the majority of what we see, but that doesn't mean it can't go the other way,” Mattis said.

Native American women represent half of the population that the shelter serves, Mattis said.

And both advocates say there’s a significant link between housing insecurity and family violence.

“Oftentimes, domestic violence is involved in family homelessness, it’s actually one of the leading causes,” Margolis said.

The YWCA located on Third Street in Missoula offers temporary housing for women and families– in addition to counseling services, support groups, and other programs.

“The people know about the resources available to them, the more they're likely to leave their abusive relationship with their partner,” Mattis said.

Although the job can be intense, Mattis says it’s the women that keep her encouraged.

“I know when talking to a survivor, especially when their story can get pretty graphic, when it comes to the physical violence that they’ve endured, it can be really heavy,” Mattis said. “It hurts my heart, to hear what has happened to them. But at the same time, I recognize how brave they are for reaching out, coming to us, and how much courage it takes to just say, ‘This isn't OK and this is what happened to me.’”

Domestic Violence resources available in Missoula:

YWCA Crisis Hotline: 24-hour crisis line: (406) 542-1944 or (800) 483-7858

YWCA Missoula

National Domestic Awareness Hotline