A Dose of Hope


Courage is the choice and willingness to face agony, pain, danger, uncertainty and intimidation – according to Wikipedia. At HAVEN we see courage each and every day and in the faces of every person we assist, whether adult or children. Those individuals who must face the fear, pain, hurt and trauma of victimization know first-hand what courage is all about, even though most would never recognize the courageous steps and acts they are taking.

Imagine the courage of speaking out against your abuser. The courage to face your rapist in court. The courage of moving you and your children into a shelter. The courage of telling your employer why you are late to work. The courage needed when your actions are being questioned or behaviors are being blamed by your family and friends. The courage to have a rape kit examination and tell how your body was violated to law enforcement, prosecutors, juries.

Each fall, HAVEN partners with the Detroit Lions Courage House Board of Directors, and holds an annual fundraising dinner. This partnership, now in its 23rd year, highlights in particular the courage of HAVEN’s youngest clients – the children who reside at our shelter. Children, who at no fault of their own, move into shelter to escape the violence being perpetrated by an adult against their mom and sometimes even themselves. Children, who often very silently, exhibit incredible courage.

The funds raised at the dinner, help support the programming provided to our young residents. Programming to help the children express their emotions, to share their feelings of fear and isolation. We work with the children to identify their strengths, to help them create a safety plan, to work with them on reestablishing a positive parent/child relationship with the non-abusive parent. And as important as everything else – we give the children a space to be a child, whether they are 2 years old or 15 years old, we want them to be themselves. We want them to laugh, run, giggle, play, think, explore, and learn. Children surrounded by domestic and sexual violence, learn to walk on egg shells. At HAVEN, we want that tension to reduce and let children return to the typical activities of kids.

Recently a group of Detroit Lions players and their wives came to HAVEN to play with the kids. Activities included, a wild game of dodge ball, jumping rope, and shooting baskets, to name just a few, all had the children smiling and laughing. For 90 minutes, they could forget they were in a shelter or in therapy, and just have FUN. And the smiles on their parents’ faces, as well as the Detroit Lions’, were just as big. It was actually hard to see who was having the most fun!

So on October 20th, nearly 500 community members including the Detroit Lions Family – players, wives, coaches, and front office, staff – will gather at Ford Field. We will recognize several community leaders and a current Lions player. But what we will really be doing is giving a large dose of hope to those we serve. A dose of hope that makes courage possible and egg shells evaporate.

If you would like to join us in our efforts, you can attend the Detroit Lions Courage House dinner, featuring ESPN’s Adam Schefter at Ford Field on October 20. Click here for more information. If you cannot attend the dinner, there are still many other ways you can bring hope to our children – you can donate your time OR resources. To learn more about HAVEN and our work, visit our website here.

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Folders and Backpacks and Homework…Oh My!


By now the supply lists have been checked off and the teacher meetings and school orientations have been attended. Most likely your children (and you) have also had a flood of different emotions as the school year approached and began. Disappointment that summer has come to a close. Excitement looking forward to the new year. Or maybe a bit of anxiety or nervousness about new routines, teachers, classes or friends.

Throughout our 40 years in operation, we’ve noted that children who live in households where violence exists also have a flood of emotions related to school. Some children are happy to use school as an escape, a place to feel safe from their chaotic and fearful home. Like Wendy, a childhood survivor of domestic violence, who stayed at our shelter 31 years ago when her mother packed up her and her brothers to flee their abusive stepfather. Wendy shared with us: “As a child, I loved school because it was a place to get away. I didn’t have to deal with the arguing and seeing my mom get hurt.”

Still other children may resist attending school because they experience separation anxiety – feeling the need to stay home to “save” the abused parent from the abuser. No matter what the circumstance, at HAVEN we work hard to meet the children we serve where they are emotionally to help facilitate healing.

In addition to ensuring the children staying in our shelter are attending school, we provide counseling, and the option to attend a variety of supportive groups in a therapeutic environment to them. We also offer respite activities such as going to a ball game, a playground, etc. and many options to play. For some of the children, it’s the first opportunity they have to have truly be a kid.

One of our main goals is to help the children to feel safe, secure and loved no matter what activity they are engaged in. If you’re a parent, like me, I’m sure you share the same goal. So as you settle in to the monotony of packing lunches and helping with homework over the next few weeks and months, remember that those comforting words and gestures you used to soothe their nerves on the first day will still be just as impactful and important on the 50th day, as well as the 150th day.

Wishing you and your children an enjoyable and successful school year.

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Your Thoughts and Actions Have Power

Happy Positive Thinking Day

I am absolutely unequivocally positive that we can and will end gender-based violence. Absolutely. Positive. The end might not be within my lifetime but I am hopeful it will happen within the lifetime of the next generation. Why am I so darn positive?

For decades, much of the work on domestic and sexual violence focused on providing individual assistance to victims – shelter, counseling, advocacy, and legal remedies. All critical and lifesaving. At HAVEN, in our 40 years, we estimate that we provided such services to over 400,000 individuals – women, children, and men. We know that we have made an impact and we know that we have helped save lives. And continue to both today. 

And during those 40 years, we also provided critical prevention education programming to hundreds of thousands of school children. Teaching students about body autonomy, the dynamics of abuse, healthy relationships, consent, dating violence, sexual harassment, and gender respect. But over the past several years we have seen the direction of prevention education starting to make a significant shift, a shift from risk reduction (“don’t get raped”) to a strong focus on primary prevention.

And this shift is what is driving home my positive belief that we will end the violence.

When we as a society begin to address the root causes of gender-based violence, we stand an actual chance at ending the violence. Primary prevention becomes the means to an end. Let’s look at another serious public health issue as an example – smoking.

I am old enough to remember people smoking on airplanes, at movie theaters, in hospital rooms, elementary schools, churches – you name it – people smoked and smoked – with no one giving it a thought or a concern. Then we started to hear of health concerns for the smoker and eventually that led to warning labels on cigarette packaging. Next came concerns regarding second hand smoke and addiction. When the truth about nicotine addiction came out and big tobacco was held accountable, the tide started to shift. The effort began to focus on root causes – nicotine addiction and direct link causes to cancer for both the smoker and those breathing in those second hand fumes.

It took decades and yes, people of all ages still smoke, but in significantly smaller numbers. And where can one smoke? Not many places anymore. Starting this month, in some states, smokers will even be banned from smoking in their cars if minor children are present. A huge shift from just 20 years ago.

Although gender-based violence is a different public health issue, it is none the less a significant health problem in our society and around the world. This critical social issue is getting more attention than it ever has leading to accountability of institutions such as college administration and the military – institutions no longer being allowed to look the other way but to face and change the role in ending violence against women. Men are stepping up and accepting their role in ending the violence – standing beside women and becoming active and engaged bystanders, speaking up against men’s violence against women. Parents and educators are pushing for appropriate educational programming for children – insisting that all children have opportunities to learn about body autonomy, healthy relationships, and proactive bystander education.

Through social media, everyday voices are speaking up about the poor use of language by the media in describing violent acts and victim blaming. Corporate America is being challenged to stop objectifying women in their advertising and their promotion of products which perpetuates such objectification – even something so simple as Target eliminating the gender separation of children’s toys makes a difference.

On National Positive Thinking Day (yes there is such a thing!), join me and others in identifying how you too can make some positive steps toward the elimination of domestic and sexual violence.

My next positive step – I am going to share this blog and HAVEN’s Prevention Education Program information with friends and family members who have young children in school. I am going to give them tools to talk with their schools about making sure that their children have quality primary prevention education (not risk reduction education) made available to them and their classmates. A small but critical positive step.

What will you do today, tomorrow, and throughout future days?

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Calling All Football Fans!

FacebookNewsfeed470x394Guest post by: Kim Doverspike, Executive Director, High 5ive – The Drew Stanton Foundation

Are you ready for some football? For me, the answer has always been a definitive YES! My career in community outreach has been one that has revolved around football and professional football players. First with the Lions, and now as the director for Drew Stanton’s High 5ive Foundation. It has been a rewarding career and I have been able to forge many wonderful relationships with organizations doing great things in the community. One of those is HAVEN, with whom I am proud to say I have been working with for 25 years!

There are many reasons I enjoy working with HAVEN, including getting to know the dedicated people who work tirelessly to advocate for and empower survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The programs that HAVEN staff provides for people who suffer from these horrible crimes are nothing short of necessary and remarkable.

Needless to say, the current stories in the news regarding professional athletes as they relate to domestic violence are not positive. There is a great need for awareness, education, prevention and treatment for those victims of this violence as it relates to not only sports, but all areas of society. That is why you need to get involved! And there are many ways to get involved.

If you are a football fan, and ready for some football, the NFL season is upon us and HAVEN is hosting a Tailgate Party during the Lions vs. Vikings game on September 20th. I can’t think of a better way to start, or continue, your involvement in this burning issue.

Although the headlines regarding professional athletes tend to be negative and some of the situations and circumstances are unimaginable, I can attest from being in the business for 25 plus years that the majority of these athletes are doing great things in the community. And several of them will be attending this event and lending their support to HAVEN for this cause.

This particular event is geared towards engaging male allies as champions and supporters of HAVEN and it offers a fun and relaxed atmosphere where men and women can learn about HAVEN’s efforts to treat and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault.

Please consider becoming a part of the solution by supporting HAVEN. You can help by purchasing an event ticket, becoming a sponsor, donating an auction item or simply offering to assist in any way that might work for you. I can assure you, you will be glad you did.

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Why I Support HAVEN and its Mission

Living without fear is not a privilege.-2

Guest post by: Michelle Gilbert, HAVEN Board member and
Vice President Public Relations, Comcast Cable

I’m one of the “lucky” ones. I don’t have my own personal story about being a victim of domestic violence or watching someone close to me suffer from this senseless social issue. That doesn’t mean I don’t know anyone who’s been victimized by a loved one.

I know plenty of people who have been victims. Some have shared their stories with me. Others remain anonymous concealing their real-life nightmares and bruises as if they never happened.

This is why I support HAVEN—because people I care about have experienced domestic violence. I don’t need proof from them. The staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women will be victimized in her life is proof enough for me. Look around you: That’s 1 in 3 women you know—friends, loved ones and colleagues—who have gone through or will eventually experience some form of domestic violence. For me, supporting HAVEN is my way of helping those around me who need their services.

I was first introduced to HAVEN and its paramount mission while working for a previous employer whose primary philanthropic focus is domestic violence awareness and prevention. Throughout my 14-year career with that company, I learned a lot about the social issue, including what it encompasses (it’s not always physical abuse), how to identify the signs and how to make a difference. The most meaningful lesson I learned is that domestic violence is a social issue we all need to care about. Organizations, like HAVEN, cannot fight it on their own. They need the support of government leaders, businesses and regular people like you and me.

If I haven’t yet persuaded you about why HAVEN’s mission is one that directly or indirectly impacts you, here a few more reasons why I support HAVEN:

Living without fear is not a privilege. Rather, it’s our right—mine, yours, hers and his. The only way to eradicate domestic violence is for each of us to stand up and make a difference. For more information on how to make a difference, contact HAVEN.

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Because of You, Survivors Move Forward


Recently while attending a conference, someone asked me to tell them about one of our donors—the first one that popped up in my mind. Since HAVEN is blessed to have over a thousand donors, making contributions of all sizes, I had many from which to select.

But the first one that came to mind at that moment was Mark. Mark (whose name has been changed as he makes his gifts anonymously) has been giving to HAVEN since 1999. Every three months of each year, he mails us a check for $25. Without fail. He wants absolutely no recognition and has turned down attempts to be thanked in person or share his story. His actions however make it clear that giving to HAVEN is important. Mark cares and appears to want to make a difference in his community via his regular donations.

We have many donors just like Mark, individuals who have made long-term commitments to HAVEN, faithfully making contributions year in and year out. They have moved our organization through some lean years and have allowed us to grow and expand our programming and services. Their financial support has helped us to achieve 40 years of service to the community and now the dollars we’ve received to fulfill our capital campaign demonstrate great faith in our future. These supporters just like Mark, appear to be motivated and inspired to make a difference in both the lives of an individual as well as the community as a whole.

Throughout each year, when the mail is opened, we have wonderful moments of gratitude. Receiving a folded up $5 bill with a note simply stating “thank you” is so validating of both our work and our impact. Opening up a letter from an attorney notifying us of being named in someone’s estate fills our hearts with promise and hope. At times we receive memorial gifts with notes sharing stories of past abuse or in memory of a victim of a homicide. Each of these gifts remind us of our stewardship—our responsibility to make sure that these funds are used for good—getting us closer to both our mission and vision.

Receiving contributions is also very humbling, oftentimes bringing me and others to tears. When I look at the vastness of the nonprofit community, and as I partner with and witness the terrific work others are doing, my gratitude of being selected to receive a donation grows. I know there are many choices for making gifts and the mere thought of being “the one” for donors is heartwarming. And with each gift, regardless of its size, comes great responsibility. The responsibility of making sure it is invested wisely in our work and that we use it to “go forth and do good”.

We know that we have to earn each donation. We earn it through staying true to our agency values of integrity and excellence.  We don’t take these values or the contributions of our supporters for granted. So in a thankful and humble voice – thank you. Thank you for caring for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Thank you for stepping up and making a difference in the lives of others and in working for a cause that impacts so many. Thank you for believing in a future where people can live free of violence, free of fear.

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Surely this Didn’t Happen to My Daughter

Guest post by:

Mary Ann Tournoux, HAVEN Board member and
Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, HAP

It was 4am. The land line was ringing.

I remember jumping from bed – our daughter was studying abroad in South Africa, so my senses were heightened for phone calls and emails. Sure enough – it was her voice. “Mom, I think something happened.”  It was an early day for her, what was wrong that caused her to call us so early?

Through a series of questions and a veil of tears, I said the word out loud – you’ve been raped! I am thousands of miles away. I am trying very hard to ask enough questions to justify the fact that she is exaggerating. Surely this didn’t happen to her. Surely this person who was a “friend of the house” of students that she lived with did not take advantage of her trust. Surely someone was there to help her.

Subsequent phone calls brought me to understand that there were no rape crisis programs available to her, even though she was part of a University sponsored program. My daughter faced several months of self-deprecation, rejection by her fellow house mates and depression as she carried the burden of guilt. Once home, I was able to connect her with desperately needed support resources. Three years later, she is still in counseling, and still suffers from “triggers and anxiety”. I can’t help but wonder how much it would have helped if she had immediate crisis intervention available to her in South Africa. I can’t help but wonder how much it would have helped if the University would have taken her situation more seriously. I can’t help but be eternally grateful that HAVEN was here when she returned.

If you are a parent, if you love someone so much that you want to protect them from everything that is or could be bad, you want to be SURE that there will be resources available for you and for your child/loved one in the event that the situation is beyond something that you are able to “fix” alone. When you are holding the phone in your hand and you realize that you are no longer sure you are saying the right things, you want to be SURE that there is someone you can turn to who will guide you both to a solution. Please be sure these resources are always available. Please support HAVEN now….when you least expect it, you may need them yourself!

HAVEN provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to nearly 30,000 people each year and greatly relies on the generosity of the community to do so. Please click here to volunteer your time or click here to make a tax-deductible donation

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