Sojourner Family Peace Center Makes a Difference for People Impacted by Domestic Violence

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Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting your partner? Does your partner put you down or call you names? Do you feel safe at home?

These messages are all over: on billboards, on buses, in doctors’ offices. Yet Sojourner Family Peace Center President and CEO Carmen Pitre worries that people are still not as aware as they need to be about domestic violence. “Sometimes I feel like we lose sight of the urgency of this issue,” she says. “These women — and some men — are all around us, in plain sight. Yet they continue to live in isolation, hurt and terrorized, mentally, emotionally, physically, sexually.”

Since 1978, this agency (formerly Sojourner Truth House, which merged in 2009 with the Task Force on Family Violence) has worked tirelessly to keep the issue of domestic violence in the public eye while at the same time providing services to those impacted by it.

Today, Sojourner provides three main types of services: crisis housing at a 46-bed emergency shelter; system advocacy with partners such as the Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office; and individual support through one-on-one counseling and group support for survivors and offenders.

Specific services include emotional support, domestic violence education, legal advocacy, job readiness, parent education, financial literacy, and assistance finding housing and securing employment. In addition, Sojourner and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin have formed a unique partnership to create one of the first co-located child advocacy and family violence centers in the country, the Child Advocacy Center at the Sojourner site.

“The legacy of violence gets passed on as normative behavior,” Pitre says. “We have to hold ourselves accountable to open doors for survivors, or generational violence will continue to pay itself forward.”

Sojourner by the numbers

In 2018, Sojourner Family Peace Center:

  • Answered 18,281 calls from police officers, survivors and community members through its 27/7 domestic abuse hotline
  • Provided 17,146 nights of shelter to 240 women and 251 children
  • Worked with 4,481 individuals seeking restraining orders and provided guidance to 1,530 survivors about how to navigate the criminal court system

This Story is part of the December issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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