DVIP’s Remarkable 40 Years of Service

Today, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) provides a range of comprehensive services and fundamental support for victim/survivors in eight Southeastern counties – Johnson, Iowa, Cedar, Washington, Des Moines, Henry, Lee, and Van Buren. The story of DVIP, its expansion, and improvements go back 40 critical years that were only possible because of the relentless commitment of the backbone of DVIP:  the resiliency of the individuals we serve, the staff and volunteers that serve them and the support from all of our funders – without whom this organization would not exist.

The humble beginnings of DVIP can be traced back to 1977 when activists began educating the community about domestic violence and the needs of victims. In 1979 the University of Iowa’s Women’s Resource & Action Center received a federal grant to explore the problem and incidence of domestic violence in our community. The results of the research demonstrated the community’s dire need for a domestic violence shelter and support services, which prompted a partnership with the Crisis Center to host the hotline and soon after, DVIP opened its first shelter in October of 1980. Through the 1980s, DVIP depended heavily on limited staff, often with one member performing a variety of services like group counseling, community outreach, and education. In 1988 and 1989, the average stay for residents at the emergency shelter was 20 days. As the need within their region became more prominent DVIP expanded from serving only Johnson County to including Cedar, Iowa, and Washington counties.

With tremendous community support – made up of a unique coalition of prosecution, law enforcement, social services agencies, and of course, the citizens of Iowa – DVIP kept expanding well into the 1990s. A new shelter, that could house up to 40 people at a time, was built in 1993 to keep up with the increasing number of individuals that needed services in DVIP’s service area. However, in 2000, DVIP’s funding resources began losing ground that came with state-level budget cuts and causing the reduction of staff hours. From 2000 to 2013, 29% of victim service programs closed in Iowa, which meant that DVIP’s service region was expanded again to its current service area which includes Johnson, Cedar, Washington, Iowa, Henry, Lee, Van Buren, and Des Moines counties.

DVIP’s journey to 2019 took 40 years of unparalleled expertise and dedication from staff, volunteers, and community supporters. To be a direct service advocate, working directly with victims/survivors, a staff member or volunteer of the agency has to complete a minimum of 30 hours of training and 40 hours of shadowing at the emergency shelter and complete in-person and online education to become a Certified Victim Counselor. All staff members, even the ones not working directly with victims/survivors, must go through victim counselor training in order to ensure DVIP’s promise of providing a safe, inclusive, and non-judgmental environment to anyone in need. Because of their work, DVIP has provided over 430,000 nights of safety within their emergency shelter. DVIP staff has assisted 66% of the individuals they served in 2019 with finding permanent housing and of the over 1,900 individuals served this year 97% of them reported feeling safer because of the work that DVIP does every day. 

If you or a loved one is in need of support services, safety planning, resource gathering, or wants to learn how to help victim/survivors in our area please call our toll-free hotline at 800.373.1043 or email dvip@dvipiowa.org. As always services provided by DVIP are free and confidential to anyone in need.