Group aims to intervene before domestic violence ends in tragedy

Hubbard House offers shelter for victims, programs for abusers

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One in four American women will be abused in their lifetime, according to widely recognized statistics.

Hubbard House aims to intervene before such abusive relationships end in tragedy, as family says a Jacksonville mother's did this week.

Investigators say Ashlee Rucker was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Chad Absher, in a double shooting that left Ashlee's sister, Lisa Rucker, wounded. Lisa is continuing to recover in the Intensive Care Unit at UF Health and is expected to make a full recovery.

Family and friends said they tried to get Ashlee out of what they described as a very abusive relationship with Absher.

That intervention is something Hubbard House encourages, as its goal is “every relationship violence-free.”

To that end, the organization helps not only those suffering from abuse who need safety and shelter, but also those who abuse them.

C. Vanessa Francis manages the Hubbard House First Step Batterer Intervention. Last year, 257 men completed the Hubbard House program with another 91 participating from jail. 

“Often at the end, we’re very pleased with what they’ve learned,” Francis said. “They tell us how much it’s impacted their families. I’ve had partners call me and say, I really appreciate what you all did. Things are very different for us now, and he’s a whole different person, and he doesn’t do what he used to do.'”

On average, 88 percent of men who complete that program never offend again, Hubbard House says.

Francis said Hubbard House offers a variety of services to people involved in domestic violence, which goes beyond physical abuse. It can also include:

  • economic abuse
  • intimidation
  • emotional abuse
  • using the children
  • sexual abuse
  • isolation

Hubbard House said women also batter men -- or women -- but it’s not as common. The organization's women’s batterer intervention program had 91 participants last year. 

For more information on the batterers intervention and the shelter for people who are dealing with abuse, go to

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