Lincoln South Rotary Club members heard from Nichole Palmer, Assistant Development Director for Friendship Home on May 29, 2020.
The tag line on the website for Friendship Home is "Empowering freedom from domestic violence". Reading further "Through emergency shelter, transitional housing and crisis services, Friendship Home helps victims of domestic violence gain insight into their trauma and guides them to use their strengths to rebuild their lives."
Nichole started her presentation by thanking the City of Lincoln. During Give to Lincoln day on 5-28 nearly $114,000 was donated to Friendship Home. Their events like Stuff the Bus were cancelled due to the pandemic so this will provide a great deal of relief. The entire Give to Lincoln event was record-breaking with 445 non-profits registered and $6.9 million donated. Nichole stated it reminds her why she loves Lincoln - people help people.
She then shared a letter written by a survivor of domestic abuse written to her spouse. It was full of questions and you could feel the fear in the writer's words.
. . . I wonder if you will approve of what I have cooked
. . . I fear you won't think the house is clean enough
. . . What have I done wrong?
. . . How will you be when you come home from the bar?
. . . Do you despise me?
This was a letter from Nichole's mother to her father written at a time when he was out of town. She could only share the letter because both of her parents are deceased.
It was found by Nichole as she was clearing her father's things after his passing - it had been placed in a safe deposit box. Her mother predeceased him.Nichole was therefore responsible for settling his estate.
The rest of the presentation was very personal - inside the life of their family. She talked about the fear that she and her brother knew as they wondered what might happen. She talked about the abuse - the black eyes, the stitches. She often wondered why her mother would not leave and she shared that, at that time, there wasn't help like the Friendship Home offers. 
She talked about learning from her maternal grandmother that her mother feared the idea of leaving because her father had threatened to kill her if she left.
Having a mentor like her grandmother probably saved her - helped her learn how to avoid becoming a victim like her mother. 
The most important thing that we can do is help with awareness. People are afraid to get involved. They don't want to accept that they may know someone who needs help. The fact is that approximately 1 in 4 women will experience emotional or physical abuse.
Friendship Home serves nearly 1500 women and children a year. At any time they have an average of 144 women and children (60% are children) in shelter and up to 38 on the waiting / pre-shelter list. Those individuals are asked to call Friendship Home daily so they can know how they are doing and if the danger has elevated. (Even with people on waiting lists they have plans in place to take care of those in desperate need.) They are available 365 days a year.
She speculated that domestic abuse may have increased during the pandemic. But the contacts to Friendship Home declined. She believes that with individuals laid off and work at home options, the victims may not have an opportunity to make calls - they are isolated with the abusers. As restrictions have been raised a bit, they are again receiving calls.
Nichole explained that there are three types of shelters.
Communal - this was the first type of shelter that they had. There are a number of bedrooms but there is a communal area for kitchen and living room. At times they may need to share the bedrooms depending on the number of people in shelter. There was a time this was the only option and she feels some may have declined to shelter as they were uncomfortable with that type of living arrangement.
Single-family - these are apartments or townhouses in various locations in the City which is ideal to help separate the victim from the abuser by placing them in a different area. They do not own these dwellings but work with the Lincoln Housing Authority.
Transitional - this offers longer term housing typically 6 months to 24 months. The idea is to help the victims reestablish their lives. They often have lost their phones to their abusers; they may have left all ID, bank and credit cards (if they had them) behind.
To ensure safety of the residents, they have not published a physical address. If anyone has questions or wishes to contact them they can use Nichole's direct line which is currently 402-423-1881.