Tag Archives: HAVEN news

A New HAVEN – More Efficient, More Effective

For almost 40 years, we have been dedicated to eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault across Oakland County and surrounding communities. As the only comprehensive treatment and prevention center, we provide shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to nearly 30,000 people each year and give families a chance to begin again.

While an enormous amount of work has been done to improve safety for the women and children in our community, everyday we see that intimate partner crimes remain a substantial problem. To combat this epidemic, we are taking a new stance against violence, one that will help people more effectively and efficiently. On Wednesday, we will break ground for our new facility and launch the long-awaited public phase of our Plant the Seeds of Hope Capital Campaign – slated to continue over the next 12 months.

For this $8 million initiative, we are currently seeking $3 million to be funded through new market tax credits and other incentive programs, leaving a $5 million fundraising goal. The funding will support the construction of a new HAVEN facility that will provide 36,000 square feet of residential, counseling, and advocacy space. The building will be located on approximately six acres of land, purchased in November of 2012, strategically located near the Oakland County complex in Pontiac.

To date, we have successfully secured more than $4 million (80%) and have completed the first stage of the campaign, which allowed us to purchase roughly six acres of land in Pontiac, hire an architectural firm and begin work with a construction manager. As we move into the second phase of the campaign, we are turning to you to seek donations of all sizes to help us secure the roughly $1 million still needed to build our new facility.

The new HAVEN will be based on a model – the Family Justice Center – that was pioneered in San Diego in 2002 and provide a central location for the services victims need. It has been adopted by communities in 33 states and 3 countries, and has proven to:

  • Reduce homicides
  • Increase victim safety, autonomy, and empowerment
  • Reduce fear and anxiety for victims and their children
  • Reduce recantation and minimization by victims

More than a new facility, this new HAVEN will provide a combination of services and interventions from a primary location, it will be a new, more effective way to work.


First, it will allow us to expand capacity to accommodate those in need. Our current shelter is a 1920s convent that needs repairs and is costly to maintain and operate. In addition, a lack of space forced us to turn away people 810 times last year – 5% more than the previous year.

Second, the new HAVEN will help expand our capabilities to provide victims with the help they need. The process for victims seeking shelter, personal protection orders, copies of legal documents, and restraining orders can be demanding and degrading. By housing services under one roof, we can make it easier for victims to get help; thereby, reducing their risk of becoming frustrated by the process and returning to their abusers.

Third, the new HAVEN will bring greater awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence to our community. Because this new facility will be visible to the public (versus being in a secret location like we have traditionally been), it will not only make it easier for people to find help, it will also serve as a visible reminder of the pervasive problem of violence in our community.

Most important, the new HAVEN will allow us to help families in our own backyard. In Michigan, one out of three homes experiences intimate partner violence firsthand. In Oakland County alone, more than 150,000 households have experienced violence. Furthermore, 40% of women in Michigan, 16 years of age and older, have experienced some form of sexual violence.

It’s time to stop the numbers from growing. Everyone deserves to live without fear. 
Click here to donate or contact Rachel Decker,
 Director of Development & Capital Campaign at 248-322-3703 or rdecker@haven-oakland.org to find out how you can help.

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Let the Celebrating Begin!

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Finally, the highlighted and circled dates on my calendar are almost here!

I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the final days of spring than with our “Raise the Roof” Gala fundraising event (or Gala Afterglow) and the groundbreaking for our new facility.

Tomorrow, I will put on my best cocktail attire and my dancing shoes to join HAVEN supporters to “Raise the Roof” at HAVEN’s inaugural Gala event. I look forward to the festivities, including a special performance by NUCLASSICA and my belly has already started to rumble just thinking about the delicious food. I also anticipate watching a little friendly auction competition as guests vie for the fabulous vacation package on the beach or that once-in-a-lifetime chance to throw out the first pitch at a Tigers game.

This signature event, co-chaired by Nina Campbell and Lara Fetsco Phillip, also serves as a reminder that domestic violence and sexual assault do not discriminate. People of any race, gender, religion, age or financial status have experienced these crimes. Since 1975, HAVEN has reached out to those in need of support to lend a helpful hand.

Now, as many of you may have read, in 2014 we look to expand those services under one brand new roof. With the community’s support, our Plant the Seeds of Hope campaign to grow a stronger HAVEN is about to become a reality. It’s only fitting that we honor HAVEN’s nearly 40 years of history by kicking off the next chapter and celebrating the construction of our new facility and new way of serving survivors.

The countdown has officially begun until the day we put the shovel in the dirt on June 18. Once the new facility is complete, gone will be the days that HAVEN and the prevalent issues of domestic and sexual violence will be masked from the public. We will be out in the open providing even greater awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence in the community. And, most importantly our new model – the Family Justice Center – will provide an easier process in helping survivors get the help and access to resources they need.

Through the years as the President and CEO of HAVEN, I have worked closely with staff as we’ve grown and changed. From rehabbing the Residential Program to adding services to serve the deaf community, every day I witness the fruits of their labor. So, I am pleased that as HAVEN moves forward to add another mark in history, we are able to celebrate it right!

I hope to see you there!

For tickets or information about the Gala event click here or contact Carrie Copeland at 248-322-3706 or events@haven-oakland.org.

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Teachers Should Educate and Protect

Recently, there have been numerous headlines about teachers being arrested or convicted of criminal sexual conduct. Unfortunately, this is not new behavior but an ongoing problem in our society. It is also incredibly unfortunate that the reaction to these crimes by the media and others offering commentary appears to minimize the action of these adult perpetrators and/or focuses the blame on the young people who have been victimized.

One recent headline, Grand Rapid Teacher Faces Prison in Sex Case, is a great place to start.  Criminal sexual conduct is not about sex!  It is about an abuse of power.  For most of us, when we see or use the word “sex”, we conjure up an image of a consensual experience or relationship.  Not for a sex offender – it does not bother them to have sex with someone who does not want it.

Many commenters on local media stories or social media sites are often sympathetic to the abuser.  In many posts, commenters write about their own “hot” teacher experiences of their youth and others are quick to blame it on the student.  I don’t know about you but I think it’s incredibly unlikely that these incidents are just snippy little games cooked up by bored girls and boys.

The reality is that the unethical and downright disturbing behavior of a teacher making sexual advances or assault on a student is wrong no matter what the circumstances.  Again, it’s not about sex, it’s about power and control.  Many times, there is manipulation or “grooming” that takes place to gain their trust prior to the assault.

As parents, we entrust our children to the teachers and other staff at their schools.  It is their job to educate and protect – not violate – your child.  It is important to talk to your child or teen about the warning signs that someone is attempting to take advantage of them.  They need to know that if a teacher or another person of “authority” is doing something to make them uncomfortable, on any level, they have the right to speak out.

The HAVEN Prevention Education Department offers age-appropriate school programs that help children, from pre-K to high school, understand many topics, including body ownership, risk reduction strategies and bystander intervention.  To learn more or request a speaker call 248-334-1284, ext. 360, complete the speaker request form.

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New Website Provides Better Access with Live Chat

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We are proud to announce the release of our newly redesigned website. It has been crafted to provide an all-access pass to information about HAVEN 24-hours per day.

The site is an improved outlet for HAVEN information and resources to help support those who need services, including an exciting, new option to live chat with a crisis counselor.  Services are now also available for the deaf community.

The site also features simplified navigation and menus that will help you easily locate the information you need when you need it.  Feel free to explore to:

We hope this new format and feel  offers you an improved online HAVEN experience.

I also want to share a heartfelt thank you to the exceptional staff at Lowe Campbell Ewald for generously sharing their in-kind time and talent to develop the site.  It is truly a wonderful reflection of our organization.

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Response to “Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped” by Zerlina Maxwell, appearing on EBONY.com

By Mark Nesbitt, Prevention Education Specialist

Recently an article was published on EBONY titled Stop telling Women How to Not Get Raped. The piece goes on to detail the need for anti-rape campaigns that are targeted toward men. The reason being that men are the majority of the ones committing these crimes and that it is inherently victim-blaming (and ineffective) to have anti-rape campaigns aimed at women, putting the onus on them to make themselves safer and prevent rape.

This is a sentiment that is very-much shared by HAVEN, as well as many other groups and organizations working to end oppression and gender-based violence. There are whole organizations like Men Can Stop Rape and A Call To Men that produce campaigns specifically designed to target male peer culture and encourage positive social change. We at HAVEN are striving to do it as well.

Currently, we are offering an eight-week program called Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP). MVP was originally developed by Jackson Katz and Byron Hurt at Northeastern University and is now run by the school’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

HAVEN adapted the well-established, evidence-based, curriculum into an eight-week program that can be administered in high schools and middle schools across Oakland County. MVP is a leadership development program that motivates male student-athletes and student leaders to play a central role in solving problems such as sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault. Utilizing a bystander approach to prevention, the MVP program views the young men not as potential perpetrators or victims, but as empowered bystanders who can engage in proactive, preventive behavior and leadership to bring an end to gender-based violence and the cultural norms that support it.

The goal of the program is to raise awareness, challenge thinking, open dialogue, and inspire leadership around these topics that are often considered “women’s issues,” due in large part to the way that many anti-rape campaigns are targeted towards women. We, too, believe that men play an important and necessary role in ending this violence and are working to foster that sentiment in male youth culture with our MVP program. For more information about the program, or to schedule it for your school, contact Mark Nesbitt by phone (248) 334-1284 ext. 352 or by email mnesbitt@haven-oakland.org.

Another way HAVEN is working to engage men is this work is with Gentlemen, an anti-sexist group for men. Gentlemen is an activist group that supports gender equality and is dedicated to encouraging healthy and respectful masculinity, challenging sexism and other forms of oppression, and supporting HAVEN in its mission to end gender-based violence. Gentlemen works to break down typical gender role expectations and inspire more men to step up and play their role in primary prevention of gender-based violence and promotion of respect and equality for all.

We seek to encourage masculinity that values virtues of healthy and respectful adults, but leaves the specific embodiment and expression of such virtues up to the individual. Gentlemen is for men in that engaging males and challenging traditional notions of masculinity is a major focus, but this group is not intended to be solely of men. This work cannot be done without a wide variety of representation and we invite people of all sexes and identities to work with us. This group aims to place men’s role in supporting feminism and all that entails at the forefront, as this is an undeniable and essential piece to fostering equality. We strongly reinforce the message that we need to tell men not to rape, rather than teach women not to get raped.

Gentlemen holds two kinds of meetings each month, a Community Meeting and a Council Meeting. Community Meetings meet every second and fourth Wednesday from 6:30  - 8:30 p.m. at social establishments around Oakland County such as coffee shops and libraries (currently being held at Torino, 201 E 9 Mile, Ferndale). These are casual meetings meant to reach into the community to increase education, create dialogue, and inspire activism through discussion.

For the business side of things, Council Meetings are held on the first Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. – noon at our HAVEN offices (30400 Telegraph Rd., Suite 101, Bingham Farms). Council Meetings are held to set goals, plan activities, and discuss decisions about the organization, structure, and direction of the group. Again, everyone is welcome to attend any Gentlemen meeting, Community or Council. If you would like to keep up to date with Gentlemen happenings please visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HAVENGentlemen. If you have any questions feel free to email gentlemen@haven-oakland.org

Engaging men in our work is a large part of our mission here at HAVEN. It is imperative that we engage men in prevention discussions and challenge victim-blaming anti-rape campaigns. Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. Instead of telling potential victims how not to be raped, we need to be telling people how not to rape. And because the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men, we need campaigns that are aimed at men that encourage social change and reinforce positive behaviors that can truly make everyone safer. This is not anti-male, this is just being honest about the realities of these crimes. We know that most men would never commit a sexual assault. Violence is not inevitable or inherent. Violence is a choice. And until we all work together to change the attitudes around sexual violence, this culture will continue to support those men that choose to commit these crimes. We want to hold men to a higher standard than current masculinity asks. Our mission is to encourage respect for all, to treat everyone with kindness and acceptance. This is about keeping us all safe. This is primary prevention.

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My condolences to the family, friends and neighbors of Jane Bashara

By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

Nearly 11 years ago, my next door neighbor, and dear friend, was murdered.  A murder that remains unsolved to this day.  My neighborhood, much like your quiet street, was rocked to the core with daily speculation – did he (her husband) kill her, did he have her killed, he is the prime suspect, he is the only suspect.

As a neighbor and friend, I couldn’t believe (nor did I want to believe) that someone I knew could be capable of such an awful crime. Yet, as the director of a domestic violence program, how could I ignore the statistic that in nearly one-third of all female homicides, the killer is an intimate partner. Time and time again, we have all read the stories where next door neighbors and coworkers tell the media how “Mr. X was one of the nicest guys ever, friendly and helpful.” Everyone is shocked that such violence could happen right next door.

While we contemplate if he did it, we need to remind ourselves that statistically we do know a batterer.  When one in four women experience domestic violence – we have batterers in our lives. They are our family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, spiritual leaders, teachers, business owners, bankers, attorneys, police officers.  He is the fun guy on the bowling league, the quiet guy at the grocery store. Besides working hard to control his intimate partner, his other job is to keep the rest of us out of “his personal business.”

But when we know about the abuse, we can’t remain silent. When we hear the violence, when we see the fear, when we see the physical injuries, when we notice the isolation; we must act. We must support her efforts to be safe and we must stand firm on a “no tolerance for abuse stance” with the abuser.

 Ending intimate partner violence is the responsibility of all. And a first good step is to drag the conversation out from behind closed doors and into the light.  If my friends’ murder remains unsolved and if Ms. Bashara’s murderer remains unknown, the least we can do is use their tragedies to talk about the horrific violence that occurs behind closed doors on streets throughout our community.

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The power of numbers

By Megan Widman, HAVEN Social Action Program Director

In December, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a 124-page report outlining the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault in the United States as measured by phone surveys to over 16,000 households.  For those of us who work at HAVEN, the report was not as noteworthy for its content as it was for the attention it garnered from many media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC – and rightfully so. 

After all, it should be front page news when we discover that nearly 1 in 5 women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape, and that over half of these victims were raped by their intimate partners.   Our country should be shocked when we learn that more than one out of every three women (35.6%) has experienced rape, physical violence or stalking at the hands of their intimate partner.  We should be taking to the streets upon hearing that nearly half (48.4%) of all women in our country have experienced psychological aggression and abuse by their intimate partner.

This extensive report confirmed what we already know – that intimate partner violence is an epidemic in our country.  It is a crime that disproportionately affects women and girls.  Perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault use these tactics deliberately, to gain or maintain power and control.  And, because of this, intimate partner violence and sexual assault are now widely recognized as preventable public health issues.  It is exciting that the CDC is now approaching violence prevention in the same way that they have approached the spread of infectious disease – and understanding the scope of the problem is an important step in approaching prevention in a systematic, informed manner.

But the fleeting attention this report received is not enough.  And we at HAVEN are again reminded of how much work we still have left to do.  And the questions still abound: How can we raise consciousness on these issues every day of the year?  How do we work in our community to change the attitudes and norms that support these crimes?  How do we continue to engage our community members to do this hard work? 

And, so, numbers are powerful.  They paint a picture.  They lend credibility to an issue.  And we are thankful for any public attention that is given to the issues of domestic and sexual violence.  But we brace ourselves as the spotlight fades – because we know the next time the media shines a light on these issues, it will probably be because a tragedy has occurred.  We hope that through our advocacy, counseling, and prevention work in our community that we can perhaps prevent the next murder-suicide or violent sexual assault. 

We believe that intimate partner violence affects all of us.  If you or someone you love has ever experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, you know that even one person is too much.   Isn’t that the only number we need?

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