Friday, April 30, 2021

“have you talked to a trained domestic violence advocate?"

Have you ever had a victim of domestic violence try and open-up to you about their abuse and you not know what to say or how to handle it?

Have you found yourself asking a victim of domestic violence, “why do you stay?”

Moultrie County Dove Office understands that without being properly trained on domestic violence and best domestic violence practices, it is hard to know what to say or do when a victim of domestic violence finally decides to open-up to you about their abuse and we want you to be better prepared. Asking a victim of domestic violence “why do you stay” can place emphasis in the wrong place and make the victim feel as if they have done something wrong. In all actuality, there are many reasons victims of domestic violence stay in and return to abusive relationships. Victims of domestic violence stay in abusive relationships for fear for their personal safety and the safety and well-being of their children. Statistics show that a victim of domestic violence is at a 75% chance of being killed after leaving an abusive relationship. Victims of domestic violence stay in or return to abusive relationships because they lack support from family or friends. Abusers keep victims isolated from family and friends. Long-term abuse weakens victims of domestic violence and makes it difficult for them to make decisions without the help of a family member, friend, or advocate. It is important to understand that women are battered because they will not give in. They have often tried to confront their abuser about the behavior and tried to leave. Abusers batter women to scare them into staying. At Dove we understand victimization and re-victimization and provide one-on-one counseling and group counseling to help empower victims of domestic violence and give them the courage they need to make the choices that best fit the victim and their children’s needs. Dove understands the fear and confusion victims of domestic violence face while trying to leave an abusive relationship. At Dove we provide emergency shelter and legal advocacy to help walk victims of domestic violence through the court process.  Victims of domestic violence stay in and return to abusive relationships because it is often difficult to find housing, work, and childcare. At Dove we provide emergency shelter, and work with community partners to help victims of domestic violence find permanent housing, childcare, and employment. Victims of domestic violence stay in and return to abusive relationships because they value the time and effort they put into their relationship and they have hopes and beliefs that the abuser will change and get the help they need to stop the abusive behavior. However, abusers are rarely held accountable for their abusive behavior. They are not ordered to get the counseling and services they need to stop the abusive behavior and continue to harass the victim or move on to another victim. At Dove we work with local law enforcement and court officials to continue to strive toward better domestic violence practices.

 Moultrie County Dove Office asks that in the future if a victim of domestic violence feels comfortable opening-up to you about abuse, do not panic and ask the victim the age-old question, “why do you stay”? instead, please ask: “have you talked to a trained domestic violence advocate”?

A trained domestic violence advocate is available at Dove’s 24hr hotline by calling 217.728.9303. If you or someone you know is interested in Dove’s Domestic Violence training to be better prepared for this type of situation, please call 217.428.6616 to get more information or register for our next upcoming class or training.

Group services are now being offered in Moultrie County. Anyone interested in group services should contact 217.728.9303 for time and location.

Moultrie County Dove Office would like to thank all of you in the community for your continued support! Throughout the month of April, we received monetary donations, diapers, socks, baby items, bathroom items and toiletries. Thank You, You Truly Make A Difference!

Becky Freese

Moultrie County Coordinator

Domestic Violence Program

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Facts You Deserve to Know

In working with victims of domestic violence in assisting them with competing paperwork for an Order of Protection, Legal Advocates report there has been an increase in reports of many cases where the individual has been strangled by their abuser.  Does any of this sound familiar or do you know someone who is experiencing any of these symptoms? 


Has your partner ever put their hands around your neck, put you in a “sleeper hold” or used anything else to strangle you like a scarf, necklace, belt, rope, etc.?

Strangulation can be very serious! 

Symptoms of strangulation include:

a sore throat

difficulty swallowing

neck pain


bruising on the neck or behind your ears

discoloration on your tongue

ringing in your ears

bloodshot eyes


memory loss


nausea or vomiting

difficulty breathing


a seizure

a miscarriage

changes in mood or personality, like agitation or aggression

changes in sleep patterns

changes in vision, such as blurriness or seeing double

fainted or lost consciousness


It’s possible to experience strangulation and show no symptoms at first but die weeks later because of brain damage due to lack of oxygen and other internal injuries.  For this reason, and for a safe way to document the abuse, it is strongly recommended one consider seeing a doctor if your partner has strangled you.


Facts You Deserve to Know

Strangulation is a significant predictor for future lethal violence.

If your partner has strangled you in the past, your risk of being killed by them is 10 times higher.

Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence: unconsciousness may occur within seconds, and death within minutes.

Teri Ducy, Director

Domestic Violence Program

Dove's local county hotline number are answered 24/7. 

Macon 217.423.2238

DeWitt 217.935.6072

Shelby 217.774.4888

Moultrie 217.728.9334

Piatt 217.762.2122

Friday, January 22, 2021

Senior Companion Program Seeking Volunteers!

Dove, Inc.  newest program, Senior Companion Program is part of the Senior Corps and fits in nicely with what we do here at Dove and supports our mission.  It is a great and needed addition to the service already provided by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program which was established in the mid-70's!  

RSVP Director,  Charlie Gillaspie will oversee this program, and Kathy Walters is the Program Coordinator.  

The Senior Companion program recruits volunteers to give friendship and assistance to homebound seniors that have difficulty with daily living tasks. The Senior Companion Program or SCP pairs active seniors with older adults who aren't as independent or mobile. In addition to companionship, senior companions can prepare a light lunch, give medication reminder, read mail, and other quality of life activities. Senior Companions are also able to help provide family caregivers much-needed respite so they can take care of themselves.

Senior Companion Volunteers must be 55 years of age or better, go through background checks and training to participate, and must commit to 20 hours per week. In return, Senior Companions are provided with monthly in-service training that keeps them up to date on best practices for the elderly clients they provide companionship or family respite service. Companions are offered a small stipend for their service and support from knowledgeable staff.

This program is made possible with a grant from AmeriCorps, formerly known as the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

For additional information, please see our website, or contact us at

Kathy Walters, SCP Coordinator

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Financial Abuse IS Domestic Violence

We have all heard that the love of money is the root of all evil. For excessive wealth breeds corruption, greed, and manipulation within our society, and we all know our place in the class system.  These traits are not exclusively reserved for the wealthy, for even the smallest amount of money, or the promise of money can be used as a tool of manipulation and control over another human being.  It is the need for power and control that fuels inequalities in relationships where Domestic Violence is prevalent. This also includes Financial Abuse.  Financial Abuse is Domestic Violence.

I am addressing Financial Abuse for the simple reason that it we have started the New Year very much immersed in a pandemic where most are having strain placed on income, and when there is any fluctuation in income, whether that be excess or not enough, stress occurs.  It is more often than not that I am reminded that when people think of Domestic Violence, they seem to associate that only with the physical, visible abuse. What goes unseen many times in Domestic Violence is the Financial Abuse that often is taking place. Financial abuse can look many ways such as putting a person on an allowance or making them ask for money, not letting a person have access to family income or forcing a person to turn over their paycheck, keeping one from having any say or role in deciding how money is spent, stopping/preventing someone from getting or keeping a job or, lastly, spending money that is needed for utilities, rent, and food on things such as drugs, alcohol, or gambling.

Financial Abuse is Domestic Violence.  It is degrading and dehumanizing to the victim being controlled. It’s also one of the biggest barriers as to why people stay in abusive relationships; they simply fear they will not be able to make it without the abuser or have even been told they will not be able to make it without the financial support of their abuser. Financial Abuse is silent and often overlooked, and some people aren’t even aware that they are being financially abused and manipulated. You must know about something before you can recognize it.  During this peculiar time of tax season where family finances can be uncharacteristically up or down, it is important to know the signs of financial abuse.  We at Dove, Inc. offer help for those in abusive financial situations. Please don’t be afraid to reach out. All services are confidential and free. 

Liz Mackey is the Piatt County Coordinator for the Domestic Violence Program

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Orts, Revisited

I don’t know how many times I heard it. It was the summer of 1970. I was newly arrived in Decatur. I came as a free-lance community organizer, working the Torrence Park neighborhood.

During my first few weeks on the job, people kept saying it. “Fred, there’s this guy you need to meet, down at the First Christian Church. Name’s Ray Batman.” Finally I picked up the phone and arranged to drive my shaky pink Plymouth Valiant downtown to 441 North Church Street.

He greeted me at the door. We shook hands and wound our way down the hall to a cluttered storeroom in the basement. It was Dove’s first office, and he was its only employee. He and I had started our new jobs within days of each other at the tail end of June. We had that in common, and as it turned out, much more.

What he said that day stuck with me.

Memory is a tricky thing, and it’s been a very long time. But in my recollection, he introduced me to Dove something like this: “We’re a small bunch of white church folks, Fred. And our mission is to other folks like us. You see, racism is a white problem, not a black one. And if we’re ever gonna do anything about it, we need to work in the white community.”

That was gutsy. It was bold. I knew immediately that this guy got it, that here in front of me was a person of uncommon sense. And so he has proven to be, again and again – a person who can see a problem from a unique perspective and come up with an approach better than anyone else could have conceived. A person graced with vision and humor and kindness.

Back then sitting in his humble office, I know this was a guy I needed to know better. But little did I know that five years later I would become Dove’s third employee when Ray hired me. As 1975 opened, I trucked myself and a flourishing project for VISTA Volunteers from the then-defunct Torrence Park Citizens Committee a few blocks north to Dove’s second home in a small bungalow at 1112 East Locust Street.

And little did I know that three years after that, Ray would leave for a position managing Walter Scott Camp south of Effingham, and I would climb two flights of stairs to what had been Ray’s office in the attic and start a new job as executive director. Or that nine years later I would lure Ray back to Dove as its new finance director and genius-in-residence. Or that ten years after that I would take my leave, and Ray would resume his place as executive director.

And on that summer day in 1970, I could not have foreseen that, adding another 23 years, Ray and I would remain fast friends and confidants, that every week or so one of us would pick up his phone and we’d chat for an hour or so about all sorts of things, resolve none of them, and be okay with it.

If you’re counting, yes, that’s 50 years.

During that time, Dove has moved several times, from 1112 East Locust to 788 and 800 East Clay, and from Clay Street to its current headquarters at 302 South Union.

And while the organization has moved, one hopes it has kept its feet firmly planted in one place: in the daring mission that Ray laid out for it, to listen to uncommonly good sense, to prod, to poke, to be bold, and to take on the uneasy tasks. One hopes that Dove will always be proud to reflect the spirit of its founder.

(Fred Spannaus served Dove as a program director from 1975 to 1977 and as executive director from 1978 to 1997, and he has been an advisor to Homeward Bound for the past two decades. During his tenure as director, he wrote a column for DoveTales called “Orts.” If you must know, orts are scraps of food and a good end-of-game Scrabble play).

This original copy from the December 2020 DoveTales Newsletter for our "Anniversary Reflections" page. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

I am Thankful

I know amid the COVID pandemic, many are finding it hard to be thankful this holiday season. Missing loved ones lost to this devastating virus, worrying about our most vulnerable populations, and praying our loved ones will stay safe has undoubtedly taken a toll. Now we are being asked to skip family traditions and forego our usual Thanksgiving Day feast with our loved ones. It is hard to be thankful when things are not going well, but I am still thankful.

Thankful for the love and compassion I get to witness every day. Thankful I live in a place where organizations and social service agencies work together to meet our communities' needs. Thankful that in the last 50 years, Dove has spread their wings to adapt and change to fight social injustices and unmet human needs.  Thankful that Dove continues to develop programming and expand its reach to others. Thankful, they look to use technology, innovation, and leadership to continue moving forward to serve others, even during a pandemic. I am thankful that I work with so many great people at Dove.

Many (if not all) staff members would tell you we would like to work ourselves out of a job. No more homelessness, hunger, or even domestic violence. No more families facing financial hardships or kids that need coats. However, that's not happening today, so I am thankful that I get to meet these challenges together with them because, after all, we are all in this together, and for that, I am truly thankful.

                                            Charlie Gillaspie

                                            RSVP/SCP Director

Friday, November 6, 2020

Dove at 50 Years: Unique and Evolving

Looking back to reflect on personal or communal history is guaranteed to bring up a gamut of memories and emotions.  This look back records some of my memories and feelings.  I must say I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with the people and mission of Dove.


In the late 1970’s I was a full-time mom of three children and joined Decatur’s League of Women Voters chapter.  The group chose domestic violence as a study topic one year and I volunteered to help inquire into the incidence and nature of this newly-named phenomenon.  Study led us to connecting with a small local group of women (nurses, teachers, counselors, and survivors of domestic violence) beginning to identify the need for specialized responses to serve safety, legal and family issues caused by domestic violence.


I joined the group focused on action and services.  After some months of linking with education and training to provide services for women and children seeking safety, we managed to establish some basic emergency shelter arrangements and a hotline for women to call in an emergency.  We had become the Committee Against Domestic Violence (CADV) and the hotline number was, and remains, 423-2238 (423-CADV).

 Struggling to build a solid program for folks whose safety and survival was at risk was tough.  Happily, we realized that a local non-profit – Dove, Inc. – already had a mission and a track record of meeting “unmet needs” with a commitment to justice, equality and understanding among all people.  We hoped and asked that Dove consider taking us in and giving us a home.  What a good fit and nurturing spot for CADV to grow!

 Thanks to Dove’s Board and executive directors in the early years, this agency has remained unique and evolving in ways that facilitated amazing development of staff, services, professionalism and community support.

 Dove’s uniqueness is demonstrated in part by the Board structure:  representative members from area churches intentionally work to BE an ecumenical presence of faith-in-action.  That solid grounding then supports client services that DO NOT venture into any evangelizing or worship or limitations on who can participate in programming.  I was always proud when I watched Jewish women, Muslim women, and hundreds whose faith wasn’t shared all be welcomed and valued as blessings.

 Dove’s ability to evolve was necessary as the Domestic Violence Program and Homeward Bound were added.  Both areas have specific funding streams and standards which required accountability by providers.  Executive Director Fred Spannaus led the way in the 1980’s and 1990’s, guiding the search for grant funding and joining us in the community collaboration needed to support these programs.  Fred and the Board fully supported our membership in the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence where we accessed on-going training and mentoring in our work to build an effective and well-regarded program.  Their emphasis on ethics, accountability and client-centered services matched Dove’s own.  Workers have appreciated the occasions when the Board and  an Executive Director have supported and believed in the expertise and integrity honed through focused effort.

 An evolving organization hits inevitable bumps along the way but Dove in 2020 is in good hands, continuing to change and grow when required and still rooted in the mission and values that have guided faithfully over 50 years.

 Finally, I’d like to give a personal shout-out to some whose influences are special in my memory:  Fred Spannaus, Sue Simcox, Ray Batman, John Henry Cain, Kim Stahl, Darrel Parish, Connie Requarth, Amy Wilson, Mary Nolte, Barb Mills, Craig Mandernach and Larry Lovell-Troy  and all of my colleagues at Domestic Violence and Homeward Bound, some of whom still do the good work daily!

This Anniversary Reflection was written by Cluney John, former Dove Staff Member.

Thanks Cluney!

“have you talked to a trained domestic violence advocate?"

Have you ever had a victim of domestic violence try and open-up to you about their abuse and you not know what to say or how to handle it?...