Student Missions Blog

Oklahoma shelter: The reality of safety

Most of us move through our lives in total freedom. We drive or walk many miles to our school or place of employment and never feel fear. We don’t have to look over our shoulder as we go. We come home to a nice house in a quiet, suburban neighborhood, lock our doors and go on with our evenings.

alyssa dean130Alyssa DeanAt DaySpring Villa, security precautions are a constant factor in daily life. Locked doors, security cameras and intruder alerts are present everywhere. Only staff members carry sets of keys and know the access codes. Every person who enters the shelter to volunteer must complete training and sign confidentiality forms. The whereabouts of guests are known at all times—whether present in the shelter or out working or apartment hunting.

These security measures exist not out of paranoia, but because of the real need to provide a safe place for our guests. For most of these women, danger is reality. They are here because someone—an abuser or trafficker—wants to find them. Someone wants to hurt them again. These women need a safe place to stay while they recover from trauma and work towards their next steps in life, such as finding employment, learning child management skills or getting a divorce.

Many of these women go out every day to a job or to work towards their goals. As soon as they leave DaySpring, they feel fear. They feel unsafe. They know all too well that there is someone out there who has hurt them previously and will do so again given the chance. They go through their day afraid of what could happen to them or their children.

dayspring logo425But when they are at DaySpring, they can feel safe. Here they can actually sleep through the night. They know their children are safe, they will receive three meals every day, and they have a bed to call their own.

The reality of living life with this potential danger didn’t make sense to me until I came to DaySpring. Here confidentiality and safety have been thoroughly impressed upon all of us. Do not take pictures of guests. Do not share the names or situations of the guests. Do not open the door unless you can identify the person.

It is so important that these women feel safe here at DaySpring. If they do not, we have to find them another home. So, we uphold the procedures and make safety a priority, even if it takes time—leaving someone on the doorstep while we determine who they are—or inconveniences us. Their safety is what we are here for.

I think that many of us completely fail to grasp how very real the threat of harm, violence and even death is to some people. But here, danger is a reality, so we must make safety an equal reality for these women. In providing a bed to sleep in, food to eat and ears to hear, we not only help these women towards recovery, but we show the love of Christ and in doing so, can point them toward the only One who can truly save.

Alyssa Dean, a student at the University of Texas at Arlington, serves with Go Now Missions at a domestic violence shelter for women and children near Tulsa, Okla.

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