Volunteer Strives to Help Abused Women

Sue Bakke, a member of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) Board of Trustees, says she is on a mission to improve the living conditions of abused women in Dane County.

Bakke began assisting DAIS through promotion and fundraising after a visit to the DAIS Safe House shocked her.

“Once you see the shelter, it’s very difficult to say ‘no’ to anything they ask you to do,” Bakke says.

Bakke says the women who use the shelter are a segment of the population people never see. “They have no money, and a lot of them come on a bus,” Bakke says. “They don’t have a car and they don’t know where else to go.”

Women may stay at the shelter for 30 days. If they need to return, they must go through the screening process again, which is prioritized by the level of immediate danger the women face. It may take up to six times for a woman to leave her abuser.

“Most of them end up going back to their abuser,” Bakke says.

The DAIS shelter is the sole domestic violence safe house in Dane County. As the smallest domestic abuse safe house per capita in Wisconsin, DAIS has a count of 25 beds.

“They’ve got two families living in a two-bedroom room,” Bakke says. “It’s just ridiculous.”

Part of Bakke’s job as a trustee member is to get the word out about DAIS. Bakke says she is not afraid to “knock on a few doors” to make DAIS successful. Bakke also supports DAIS through her business, Chauette. She donates clothing or a percentage of her sales on designated dates.

Bakke says she wishes DAIS was a more well-known nonprofit, but she says it is important to conceal the shelter’s location from the Madison community to prevent abusers from knowing where it is.

“That’s a double-edged sword, though, because if you don’t let people know what’s going on, they’re not going to donate money.”

In addition to the safe house, DAIS also offers training classes to area businesses and law enforcement to help agencies work with domestic abuse survivors.

For more information about DAIS, please visit abuseintervention.org

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