Jamestown  (Sen. Heitkamp’s Offce)U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp Thursday toured Mary’s Place, a new facility to provide emergency shelter, resources, and transitional services for victims of domestic and sexual violence in the Jamestown area. Following the tour, Heitkamp convened Mary’s Place staff, local law enforcement, health care professionals, and Jamestown leaders to discuss the needs of the community as it works to address domestic violence and provide shelter and services for survivors.

Like many other communities in North Dakota, Jamestown’s affordable housing opportunities have decreased— which exacerbates the difficulty in finding safe transitional or permanent housing for victims of domestic or sexual violence. After opening in June 2018, Mary’s Place now provides additional safe housing opportunities for victims in Stutsman, and  Foster, counties.

Heitkamp talked about how critical it is to combat domestic violence at both the local and federal levels. She also discussed with the group the progress that has been made to stop domestic violence and better support survivors as a result of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – legislation Heitkamp helped implement statewide when she served as North Dakota’s Attorney General. Reauthorizing VAWA was one of the first bills she cosponsored and helped pass as a U.S. senator in 2013. She worked to include a key provision in VAWA to strengthen existing programs and provide tribal governments the authority and tools necessary to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators who commit these crimes on tribal land. Largely due to VAWA, according to the Justice Department, the annual incidences of domestic violence have fallen more than 60 percent since 1993.


“Since my time as Attorney General and in the U.S. Senate, I’ve continued to see the urgent need to help domestic violence victims find safe and reliable housing to escape their abusers,” said Heitkamp. “In addition to providing women and children with safety and residential stability, we also must focus on giving victims and their families the counselling, legal services, and other resources they need to get back on their feet. Today, I heard from community leaders, victims’ advocates, and law enforcement about how the important services offered at Mary’s Place will give the Jamestown community additional tools to provide critical transitional housing and other services for victims of domestic violence in the area. Community efforts like this one— combined with federal efforts I’ve supported like the Violence Against Women Act— make huge differences in reducing incidents of domestic violence, keeping our communities strong and safe, and giving hope to those looking to leave dangerous and traumatic situations.”


“Too many victims of domestic violence don’t receive the comprehensive support they need to escape the violence and permanently leave an abusive relationship,” said Lynne Tally, Executive Director, Mary’s Place at Safe Shelter. “Thankfully, the Jamestown community has graciously stepped up to help address this challenge, and Mary’s Place will provide temporary housing options and wraparound services that best support survivors in our area. We greatly appreciate Senator Heitkamp visiting the new facility today and working to raise awareness about the need for emergency and transitional housing and supportive services across North Dakota. As we work together to stop the spread of family violence, she continues to stand up for domestic violence survivors and their families in our state.”


In one survey, 51.5 percent of U.S. domestic violence victims who sought housing services did not receive them, meaning they may have been forced to stay in or return to an abusive environment. And on just one day in 2016, 80 percent of unmet requests for emergency domestic violence services in North Dakota were related to housing.


Heitkamp has continued to prioritize transitional housing for domestic violence victims in North Dakota while seeking justice against their abusers. In December 2017, Heitkamp introduced her bipartisan bill—the HEALS Act—  to increase transitional housing support and encourage community housing options that best support survivors. And in October 2017 as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Heitkamp toured the Minot Domestic Violence Crisis Center and helped present additional funding for its transitional housing facilities.