The Secret Shelter, Part 1

For the first time ever, the media is being allowed behind the doors of a 'secret' shelter for abused families.

Care Lodge Domestic Violence Shelter has the capacity to house 40 people. It serves a 9-county area of east central Mississippi..

Care Lodge, which was founded in 1981, is staffed by eight full-time and seven part-time workers. It has a computer lab, library and childcare area. The shelter is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"They can walk in with nothing but the clothes that they have. Everything we provide is free to them," says Leslie Payne, executive director of Care Lodge for the past 13 years. "We're a small business. We have employees. We have bills. We have utilities. We have insurance. We're no different than any other small business in this area."

Because of a state mandate, 25% of all funding for any domestic violence shelter in Mississippi must come from the public. This year's budget for Care Lodge is $725,000. Agency officials say that money will be used to serve the 1,000 shelter and non-shelter clients that Care Lodge serves.

"We have a lot of victims who call who don't need shelter. Some need a domestic abuse protective order. We average 4 to 8 calls a week of people needing a protective order," says Care Lodge Shelter Director, Joy Jones.

"Our recidivism rate probably goes somewhere between 30% and 35%, but statistics show where an adult will leave an abusive relationship three to five times before they leave for good," Payne said.

The administrative office for Care Lodge is based in Meridian. It serves as far north as Noxubee and Winston counties, and as far west as Scott and Leake counties. Care Lodge also provides services for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

In Part 2, Newscenter 11 introduces you to a mother and daughter who did leave after being shot multiple times by their abuser.