The number one reason someone may stay in an abusive relationship is love. It is human nature to want to love and be loved. When abuse – physical or emotional – outweighs that love, organizations like Turning Point can be the needed safe haven. And, they have been, in Marion, for more than 40 years.
In May of 1977, a group of concerned citizens led by Kay Stout met for the first time to discuss the problem of domestic violence in the Marion community. Immediate goals were developed to provide peer support for these victims and a long range goal emerged to establish a shelter facility where families could seek refuge. Today, the agency’s territory has expanded to cover Crawford, Delaware, Marion, Morrow, Union, and Wyandot counties, giving Turning Point the largest service area of any domestic violence program.
Turning Point serves, on average, about 160 women and children annually in the shelter, as well as 300-plus people through outreach efforts. This is accomplished with a staff of 31, both part- and full-time employees, as well as volunteers.
“Turning Point’s community education program stresses the importance of a violence-free society,” said executive director Paula Roller. And, she stressed, the organization takes a broad approach to getting that message out – including free public speaking to area clubs, church groups, and civic organizations, and professional trainings for organizations such as hospitals, counseling centers, and local law enforcement agencies.
In addition, Turning Point uses traditional and social media, posters and brochures, and special events and public displays at shopping centers, libraries, and health fairs. One of their most visible awareness events is their annual participation in the National Clothesline Project, in which colorful shirts with anti-violence statements are prominently displayed on the shelter’s front lawn along Barks Road.
Turning Point services are available to anyone who has been victimized, either physically or emotionally, by domestic violence. For individuals requesting shelter, priority is given to those people who believe they are in immediate danger and have no other safe place to go.
“Male victims requesting shelter are offered the same services as females,” said Paula Burnside, program director.
The shelter in Marion County has a fully equipped kitchen and stocked pantry to provide for families' nutritional needs. Residents take turns preparing evening meals. The kitchen is always open, allowing individuals to eat on their usual schedule. Some products are supplied through private donations and government programs, as well as a partnership with Mid-Ohio Food Bank.
Turning Point looks to the Marion community to help them support the local program with item and cash donations.
“Our community has always been generous to help, including our ‘Adopt A Family’ program for the holidays,” said Roller. The items Turning Point needs range from phone and gas cards to new socks and underwear. Other often needed items include sweat suits for children and adults, paper products, games, toys, activity books, school supplies, food and household supplies, as well as cash donations.
“Donations of clothing can be given to Goodwill in Turning Point’s name,” said Burnside. Additionally, Goodwill acts as a community partner, providing vouchers for Turning Point’s clients.
People interested in helping Turning through the holidays and year-round may contact them at 740-382-8988 or visit their website at http://www.turningpoint6.org. The website also includes a wealth of information on safety planning, dating, and legal issues related to personal safety.
For anyone seeking Turning Point’s services, the organization maintains a 24-hour hotline at both 1-800-232-6505 and 740-382-8988. Help can also be summoned by texting any of the following keywords to 20121: turningpoint, turning point, tphelp, or turning.