Iowa City organization marks 40 years of helping domestic violence survivors

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - An Iowa City organization is celebrating 40 years of bringing safety and dignity to victims/survivors of domestic violence.

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program started in 1979 and now serves people in eight different Iowa counties. (MARY GREEN/KCRG)

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program started in 1979 and now serves people in eight different Iowa counties — Johnson, Cedar, Washington, Iowa, Lee, Van Buren, Henry, and Des Moines.

“Back in 1979, DVIP received a grant to investigate whether or not the community in the Johnson County area was in need of services for domestic violence victims, and within days of receiving that grant, indeed, people started showing up for services,” said Alta Medea-Peters, DVIP’s director of community engagement.

The work hasn’t stopped since. DVIP built its first, 20-bed emergency shelter in the early 1980s when there was nothing like that in the area.

The current shelter, which was built in 1993, includes 40 beds, along with “Cooper’s House,” an area for their animals.

“We have been full every day since 1979,” Medea-Peters said.

Aside from the shelter, DVIP works to both answer to the crises of domestic violence and prevent them.

“DVIP services include everything from safety planning to a 24-hour hotline to mobile advocacy, meaning our advocates go to where you are,” Medea-Peters said.

Through all those services, the organization doesn’t know how many people it’s helped over the last 40 years.

“I have an approximate number of individuals that we have provided nights of safety in our emergency shelter to, and that is 430,000 nights of safety within our emergency shelter since 1979,” Medea-Peters said.

Now as DVIP celebrates 40 years, the organization looks forward to what the next 40 will hold.

“Would I love to be out of a job? Yes. I would love to end domestic violence,” Medea-Peters said. “That is part of our mission, is putting an end to intimate partner abuse, and we have started doing a lot of work on prevention education in order to do that.”

To mark its 40 years of serving eastern Iowa, DVIP is holding an anniversary celebration on Sept. 20 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Coralville Marriott.

Medea-Peters said there will be a band, dancing, live auction and plenty of fun.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting