After OASIS Domestic Violence Shelter took in its first male client last autumn, the shelter’s officials started working on carving out a space dedicated to men.
In November, Andrea Robinson, OASIS executive director, announced the facility hoped to create a dorm area for up to two men.
In the end, Robinson and her team doubled their expectations.
By making the medicine room double as a computer lab, OASIS staff freed up a space large enough to hold four single men or a man and his dependent children.
In addition, work concluded a week or so ago on a bathroom that can be dedicated for male clients when needed. A former restroom with toilets and sinks only was renovated and now holds two toilets, a large shower and two-sink vanity.
The renovated bath is around the corner from the men’s dorm. When a man is in residence, a sign will be placed on the restroom door to indicate it is reserved for the male client.
When no male clients are in the shelter, women are free to use the renovated bathroom and stay in the men’s dorm area when extra rooms are needed.
In addition, on Monday, OASIS started converting a storage room into a dorm, adding two more beds for women.
“We could add 10 beds a year, and we will always be full,” Robinson said.
OASIS has sheltered two male clients during the past six months.
Overwhelmingly, the community’s response has been positive, she said. However, a few people voiced concerns.
Domestic violence affects everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and OASIS has a no-refusal policy, Robinson said. “We have to offer the same services to everyone. We want to be inclusive.”
When the shelter announced it had taken in a male client, the community stepped up, she said. During the holidays, supporters dropped off pajamas and toiletries for men.
According to domesticshelters.org, one in four men have been pushed, shoved or slapped by an intimate partner, and one in seven have experienced more severe forms of physical abuse.
Last fiscal year, OASIS received calls from 97 men.
During the past year, the nonprofit has provided more than 150 services to men, not including shelter, Robinson said. Those services include individual and group counseling, therapeutic services, housing assistance, financial assistance and referrals to other services.
OASIS is growing. Robinson credits greater awareness.
“I like to think we are making it easier to access services by getting rid of some barriers,” she said.
Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, email@example.com