- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Starting next month, men will be allowed to stay at Juneau’s domestic violence shelter.

The AWARE shelter plans to allow all genders to stay there starting Jan. 1, the Juneau Empire reported Tuesday.

AWARE Deputy Director Mandy O’Neal Cole said she hopes that being fully inclusive to the whole population results in more people feeling comfortable enough to seek help.

“We may not be able to meet all of their needs, but there shouldn’t be anyone who’s experienced harm and fear in their home who thinks, ‘AWARE’s not for me. It’s for someone else,’” Cole said. “We want to change that and make sure everyone knows they are very welcome to seek help here.”

Cole said the shelter had been working on a way to house men for the past few years. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 declared that organizations must provide services to more than just one sex.

Cole said she is not concerned that the expansion will cause safety issues. She said she is more concerned about the strain on staff.

“The wider we open the doors, the more we’re going to have to gauge, ‘How much more help do we need?’” Cole said. “I suspect, if we need help, Juneau will provide. It always has.”

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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