Voices Against Violence from a Distance


Olivia Gamsu, an advocate for Voices Against Violence. Photo Credit: Olivia Gamsu

Lianna St. Francis, Writer

What is Voices Against Violence, and how does it play a role in the community around us?  Voices against Violence is a domestic violence agency that provides assistance to people who are trying to flee domestic violence situations. The organization works with women and children, allowing supervised visits for children at All About Kids. Some survivors of domestic abuse suffer severe PTSD and never fully recover. Voices Against Violence gives survivors space within the shelter to feel safe from the abuse.

Katie Montagne, an advocate in St. Albans, said, “We offer assistance in housing, filing relief from abuse orders, as well as providing support and advocacy for survivors working through medical, legal and family processes.”

Voices Against Violence works hard to keep women and children safe from abuse whether it is verbal, mental or physical abuse.  Not only do they work within St. Albans, but Olivia Gamsu, an advocate in St. Albans said, “We serve Franklin and Grand Isle counties; our shelter is named Laurie’s House. When Covid settles down, we will have drop-in’s available in our new office building.”  According to Gamsu, currently, youth drop-ins are held on Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. through Zoom.  The Zoom link can be found on their social media.

Within the midst of Covid, Voices Against Violence has opened a business office, making it possible to expand the shelter to serve more survivors. Advocates have the ability to work remotely, but some prefer to work in the office. While working from home, they are still capable of staying available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through the hotline and chatline. 

The agency pulls the community together to collect gift cards and donations such as supplies for women and children. Voices Against Violence is in the process of collecting $10 donations towards the organization, giving donors a chance to win a $400 gift card to reINKcarnated (a tattoo parlor), run by Amanda Hilliker, the housing coordinator, along with working on the hotline. 

When asked how being an advocate reflected on their daily life, Montange said, “Being an advocate reflects on my daily life in a variety of ways. I find the work challenging and empowering. I find that often there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish what I want to learn and do. I hope that my work can contribute to more education in the community and for the community to learn about what domestic violence is, the complexities of it and what as a society we can do to stop it.”

Most advocates find that they bring up conversations from work to family conversations without realizing it. Gamsu said, “I could be talking about a family subject and bring up something from work. I am always trying to help people understand relationships as a whole, whether it’s a friendship, a romantic relationship or a family relationship.”

With Christmas around the corner, Voices Against Violence sponsors the families in housing by giving gift cards so the mothers can go out and buy their own presents for the children. “Around this time of year, the shelter is filled with Christmas decorations to make the families feel at home. We always seek financial support and donations from the community,” Gamsu said.     

To get more information about Voices Against Violence, you can find them on Facebook and Instagram. Donations can be made at Voices Against Violence. If you wish to donate supplies,  you can reach them through social media. 

If in need of help, or trying to flee domestic abuse, go to Voices Against Violence for their crisis hotline and chatline.