New safe haven for domestic violence opens in Ruskin

A new shelter will help victims of domestic violence during the times they're most vulnerable.

Executive director Laurie Herring gave us a tour of the Mary and Martha House emergency shelter in Ruskin.

"Mary and Martha house is a non for profit 501-C3, a domestic violence shelter and homeless shelter for woman and their dependent children," said Herring.

The organization has has been around for 35 years and has helped thousands of families. The new shelter will increase its ability to help in times of crisis, but they still have work to do before they can be fully operational.

The 10,000-square-foot shelter needs furnishings before they can open.

"Just think about your home. If you moved into a brand new house that's empty, you need couches, you need tables, you need beds, you need linens," Herring said. "Domestic violence doesn't care who you are. Domestic violence has bee around forever and with COVID-19, it has seemed to have gotten worse."

The emergency shelter is more than a warm place to stay and thanks to a dedicated staff the lives of families in the shelter are changing.

"I think it is important that people realize that these shelters are not just shelters. It not just a place to spend the night. It's a place where they can come to completely rebuild their life," said Herring. "So that these women can be empowered to make the decisions that they need to take once they get here so that they can make the changes that they need."

Mary and Martha House is creating a safe space for families in need. The new facility will house 18 families. For information, visit