13 Investigates


Woman claims domestic violence shelters won't help, forced to barricade door with heavy wheelchair

Posted at 4:16 PM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-09 08:04:07-05

It's a nightly ritual for Brenda Bertsch. She parks her 700 pound motorized wheelchair against her apartment door, fearing her ex-boyfriend may return.

Bertsch says it all started when her boyfriend became addicted to meth. She broke off the relationship after he became violent with her. She says he once punched her in the nose and held a piece of broken tile against her neck before.

Bertsch says he has been calling her up to 50 times a day and has sent threatening text messages that he wants to move back in with her since he relapsed and was kicked out of a sober living facility.

"Every second I wait, it's another second I'm terrorized or I could be attacked," said Bertsch.

Bertsch says she wants to get into a domestic violence shelter but she quickly ran into problems because of her health needs.

"They told me, if you can't self-care, you can't come in," explained Bertsch.

Bertsch relies on an caregiver to provide meals, bathing, medication, and for her bathroom needs. Bertsch says she suffered a fall several years ago which caused spinal cord damage. Bertsch says she was diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. Prior to that, Bertsch says she struggled with a Xanax addiction for 5 years.

Contact 13 reached out toSafe Nestand The Shade Tree.

A spokesperson for The Shade Tree says the organization is unable to provide specialized medical care adding people seeking refuge at the shelter need to be able to feed, bathe, and use the bathroom without assistance.

A spokesperson for Safe Nest says allowing caregivers into the shelter could put other domestic violence victims at risk.

Bertsch says she was referred to churches and other organizations but there are waiting lists and other prerequisites that she may not be able to provide.

Bertsch adds her ex-boyfriend is on the lease for the apartment and police say he has the legal right to be there.

Bertsch says she has a history of evictions, relies on social security income, and has a difficult time moving to a place on her own.

Bertsch says her family lives out of state and her friends cannot take her in. She is currently seeking donations. 


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