Domestic Abuse Shelter Struggles To Meet Demand

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 --- 9:45pm

On Shannon Barry's desk you'll find typical things: family pictures and mementos. What's not so typical, though, are the obituaries, specifically ones for domestic violence victims.

Barry is the executive director of DAIS (Domestic Abuse Intervention Services). The organization provides a 24-hour helpline, crisis response, and support groups for Dane County residents. It also provides the county's only emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence. The problem is that the shelter's way too small and can't meet demand.

"We have one emergency shelter bed per 19,000 people here in Dane County” Barry tells NBC 15.

Per capita, it's the smallest domestic violence shelter in the state.

"In order to be prioritized for our shelter, you have to be in immediate danger of severe violence, up to and including homicide” Barry says.

In 2012, over 500 women and children received shelter at DAIS.
But, the amount of those needing shelter that year was much higher.
In fact, the number of nights people had to be put on a waitlist exceeded 8000. That's nearly a 40-percent jump from 2011.

Barry attributes the jump to an increase in awareness,

"I think more and more people are understanding the relationships they're in might be violent” she says.

Right now, DAIS is raising money to build a new, bigger shelter to be able to serve and protect more local domestic abuse victims.

The current DAIS shelter can hold 25 people. The new shelter will be able to hold double that. It's going to cost about $7-million to build. So far, half of that has been raised.

For more information on how to donate just head to

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