Move To End Abuse

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Storage Company Helps Victims Of Domestic Violence

Mary Clemons had suffered years of physical abuse by the hands of her husband. She had made attempts to escape, but, for one reason or another, she returned. Most of those reasons involved believing that her daughter would be better off in a two-parent household.

However, one night the abuse became so extreme that she waited for her husband to leave for work before going into her daughter’s bedroom, packing only two small bags, and leaving their house of horrors forever.

This is the story Clemmons told Good Housekeeping. Unfortunately, it isn’t an uncommon one.

Imagine living each day terrified of your partner. You finally make the decision to leave the abuse you’ve suffered, but doing so requires you to leave your entire life behind, escaping with little more than what you and your children are wearing.

Millions of people–mostly women–face this decision each year in the United States. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are victims of domestic violence. This equates to 10 million victims per year.

While there are many shelters to help victims flee domestic abuse, most of these victims have no place to store their belongings while in the shelter. One San Luis Obispo company is seeking to change that.

Meathead Movers, an independent California-based moving company that primarily employs student athletes, has created the non-profit #MoveToEndDV. The mission is to encourage at least 10,000 businesses worldwide to pledge free products and/or services for domestic violence shelters, victims, and survivors.

One of the businesses that is a natural fit for the project is storage. “Having a place to store your belongings as you enter a shelter is so important for these women and men as they flee abusive situations,” says Aaron Steed, president/CEO of Meathead Movers. “Many victims are forced to leave their belongings behind because they don’t have anywhere else to store them. By having storage units on board, it makes the transition that much easier.”

At least one storage company, U.S. Storage, a 35-year-old company that has 104 facilities in the northwestern region of the United States, has joined the cause.

How It Works

Meathead Movers was founded in 1997 and now employs more than 350 people who make more than 13,000 local moves per year. “With our moving business came frantic calls from victims looking to flee dangerous domestic violence situations, without financial means or logistical support,” says Steed. “One day, the situation turned volatile when the abuser came home in the middle of the move. It was then that we decided to partner with a local shelter to make sure the victims and moving crew were safe and supported.”

That was in 2001. Since that time, Meathead Movers has partnered with eight additional shelters across California to help move victims of domestic violence for free. “On the heels of the national attention this free moving program has garnered, and in light of the growing cases of domestic violence and requests from businesses to get involved, we knew this effort was so much more than what Meathead Movers is doing,” says Steed.

In September 2015, the news went viral on the Internet about the campaign. In July 2016, the company formally launched the website https://movetoenddv.org and unveiled the non-profit organization.

#MoveToEndDV works with shelters, matching businesses that are willing to donate goods or services to the shelter or to individual victims and their families. Some of the businesses that have become involved in the effort include law firms, moving and packing companies, make up artists, and a wide range of other businesses. “Any and all businesses that have a product or service that would benefit shelters are welcome,” says Steed. “This could be anything from landscapers to hair stylists to Internet companies and toothpaste manufacturers.”

An Important Role For Storage

“Going into a shelter, while sometimes the survivor’s best option, is also the most difficult and stressful thanks to having to leave an entire life behind,” says David Gillanders, director of residential programs at Human Options in Orange County, Calif.

It is not unusual to see people fleeing dangerous situations and not have a place to keep their belongings while they get back on their feet. “Storage companies and their partnerships can play a huge role in mitigating some of the stress one of our residents might otherwise feel in leaving a life of abuse to find a way forward,” says Gillanders. “Storage and moving facilities provide that small piece of mind that can help tremendously in making these difficult decisions.”

The concept of storage companies partnering with domestic violence shelters to provide free storage is not a new one. The Brisbane Times reported that a storage company in Brisbane, Australia, announced a new partnership with a domestic violence shelter this spring. Other facilities around the world and in the U.S., including StorSmart, have also partnered with domestic violence shelters to provide free storage.

When Jason Lopez, vice president of marketing for U.S. Storage Centers, heard about the #MoveToEndDV program from his friend, Aaron Steed, he knew it sounded like a good program. The fact that the organization originated in southern California, where U.S. Storage has a large presence, also made it a good fit for the company to become involved.

Lopez says that his company, which rarely sells its properties, is a natural fit due to its commitment to the community. “We’re engraved in the community so we can extend our offer of a free unit long term,” says Lopez. His company’s contribution has been donating about five units throughout southern California to partnering shelters. That might not seem like much, but there is one partnering shelter in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area that only needs one large unit.

“It looks like the program is looking to expand; and, as it expands, we will expand with it,” says Lopez.

Meathead Movers has worked with nine shelters and has helped hundreds of victims. They are currently expanding across the globe. Not only is #MoveToEndDV seeking to expand its list of businesses and partnering shelters, it recently launched its volunteer Ambassador Program. Volunteer Ambassadors work with shelters to obtain a list of items that they need to help lower their overhead costs. The vetted Ambassadors then facilitate the relationship with the shelters and the businesses that are pledging to donate goods and/or services. Ambassadors then report to MTEDV on the success of the program.

How You Can Help

  • Sign up on the website, https://movetoenddv.org, to donate a self-storage unit or units to a local partnering shelter. In addition, self-storage facilities can help by pledging free packing supplies and/or moving services to a partnering domestic violence shelter.
  • Apply to be a Volunteer Ambassador, helping facilitate the relationship between other businesses that are pledging with partnering domestic violence shelters in your area.
  • Become a sponsor.
  • Help spread the message.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a freelance journalist based in the Ozark Mountains. She is a regular contributor to MiniCo’s publications. Her business articles have also appeared in Entrepreneur, Aol.com, MSN.com, and The Kansas City Star.

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