‘InVest advocate’ is a champion for those experiencing domestic abuse

Many now believe the pandemic created a perfect storm for domestic violence. Between lockdowns, job losses and financial problems, nationwide, we saw an 8% increase for cases in 2020.

A woman who doesn’t wear a badge or a cape is a hero to many for helping those in difficult situations.

If you visit The Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Collier County, you’ll likely meet Shelli Tayman in her corner office.

“I love my job,” Tayman said. “I love that I have that opportunity to keep people safe.”

Tayman is part of the shelter’s intimate violence enhanced service team, also known as an “InVest Advocate.”

“It’s just part of an intense reach-out, outreach effort to get ahold of these victims, to get them in for services, to try and prevent possible homicides,” Tayman explained.

Tayman checks law enforcement reports in Coller County.

She reads, scans for specific words, looks for domestic violence victims, men and women.

What makes the invest program unique is the shelter calls you.

“I’ll ask them if they’re in a safe place to talk,” Tayman said. “And if I get clues, which I have, then, I tend to be quiet. I will try to find a better time.”

One abuse survivor Tayman worked with is a father.

“How I ended up here? I was involved in a really terrible relationship, and we share a child together,” the survivor said. “She did threaten to kill my kids, and this has been ongoing for years, and I have called the police on her dozens of times … and they couldn’t do anything. They were like, ‘You gotta keep on filing reports.’”

One of his reports made it to Tayman’s desk.

“I actually cried the first time on the phone because that was the first time I thought someone could help me,” he said. “Somebody is realizing what’s going on in my life. No matter how many times I called the police, nothing ever changed until Shelli reached out to me.

“Shelli guided me to go do in the court system, the restraining orders and actually somebody being there in the courtroom to support me, show up with me,” he said.

Tayman says the first call is always the hardest, but the end result is worth it.

“It’s hard. It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s incredibly rewarding when I see a difference we make in participants and our survivors,” Tayman said.

“I was grateful that she was reading over that police report at that time,” the survivor said. “I was like, ‘Finally. Finally, I can do something about this.”

His fight continues with Tayman by his side.

This is one of many programs at the shelter for men, women and children.

There are several warning signs of an abusive relationship:

Do you live in fear? Have to walk on egg shells around your partner? Do they belittle or try to control you? The shelter has a 24-hour confidential crisis line at 239-775-1101.

Reporter:Nicole Gabe
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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