The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Nittak Himmona (A New Day) Domestic Violence Shelter on Tuesday, March 5.

The shelter is a service of the Family Violence and Victims Services program on the Choctaw Indian Reservation. Despite the threat of rain, many came out to support the shelter's grand opening.

"There are many women out there that will not report their domestic abuse case because they are afraid to tell anyone or don't feel like they have a place to go," said Chief Phyliss J. Anderson.

"Now, with the opening of this shelter, they do have a place to go and I hope this will make a difference in their lives."

Nittak Himmona will provide safe shelter and provisions for Choctaw women and children who have suffered from domestic violence.

Trained staff members are on hand to help victims heal and learn independent living. Shelter Director Jessica Greer said: "With the opening of Nittak Himmona we are able to keep our Choctaw women and children safe and close to home. While staying here women can keep or find a job and children would not have to leave their school.

"The shelter also allows for the victims to be near their families and support systems while keeping them in a safe and secure environment away from their abusers."

With the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress last week and President Barack Obama signing it into law two days from now, Nittak Himmona's opening could not have been planned during a better week, officials said.