Domestic Violence Intervention Program has brought safety and support to the community for 40 years

This September, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program is celebrating 40 years of service to the eastern Iowa region.


Jenna Galligan

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program office is seen on Sunday, September 8, 2019.

Rachel Steil, News Reporter

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program will commemorate 40 years of providing access to free and confidential service for victims of domestic violence on Sept. 20.

The program provides the eastern Iowa region with emergency services such as a 24-hour hotline, 24-hour safe shelter and housing assistance, and pet sheltering, the organization’s Director of Community Engagement Alta Medea-Peters said. Last year alone, DVIP supported more than 1,700 victims of domestic violence in the eastern Iowa community.

The organization began in 1979 as part of the Women’s Resource and Action Center at the University of Iowa to serve the Johnson County community, Medea-Peters said. Since then, DVIP has grown to support eight counties in eastern Iowa: Cedar, Des Moines, Henry, Iowa, Johnson, Lee, Van Buren, and Washington. 

“DVIP also provides advocacy and education, helping teenagers and college-aged individuals understand the red flags of a potentially abusive relationship before it spirals out of control,” DVIP board member Laura Shoemaker said in an email to The Daily Iowan. 

“Forty years ago, victims of intimate-partner violence in our community had no safe place to go when they were trying to escape their abusers,” Shoemaker said. “They might try to hide at a friend or family member’s or at their church, but an abuser knows all the places their victim might try to go and will find them.”

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Medea-Peters said DVIP’s emergency shelter services have grown significantly since its origin. In 1993, the program expanded to offer a 40-bed unit, prepared to house any fleeing domestic violence situations 365 days a year. As of 2018, that unit provided more than 300,000 nights of safety to victims of domestic violence, she said.

DVIP has also developed a mobile-advocacy program over the years, which brings advocates to clients wherever the clients feel safest, Medea-Peters said. DVIP still has plans to keep growing and provide more services to the eastern Iowa region, she added.

“In addition to providing safety and dignity to individuals in need, we will continue to work on ending intimate partner abuse through prevention education and our youth programming,” Medea-Peters said. “In the future, DVIP hopes to grow into an agency that can provide not only crisis services but support for individuals no matter where they are in their journey to safety.”

RELATED: ICPD grant to assist in domestic violence response

DVIP will host a celebration of this 40 years of growth and service in the Oakdale Ballroom at the Marriott in Coralville, Medea-Peters said. She added the event will include music, food, a silent auction, and keynote speaker, Deb Talan from the indie-folk band The Weepies. 

“They asked me if I would be interested in being the keynote speaker for the 40th anniversary, because [DVIP] knew I was a survivor of domestic violence from my childhood,” Talan said. 

Talan explained the importance of survivors of domestic violence being heard and not silenced.

“I’ve only within the past couple of years started being vocal about the fact that [domestic violence] is something that I’ve experienced,” Talan said. “These issues feel so private but are so common.”