As we change our calendars over to 2016, we are gifted an opportunity to have a fresh new beginning. For HAVEN, 2016 marks our 5th decade of supporting and empowering survivors of domestic and sexual violence. It’s also a new chapter in how we provide those services as we are finally in our new home—a home built out of the love and concern of our community.
When we began the planning of our new facility, over five years ago, one early decision was to no longer keep our location secret. Our belief, proven by best practices from around the country, was that we could address safety concerns via the building process, a benefit of building from the ground up. Many have questioned that decision, since for decades most domestic and sexual violence programs, including HAVEN, operated with somewhat of a veil of secrecy. Well, it is time to no longer be secret.
On the first day of offering services at the new building (click here for an article and pictures), a survivor of child sexual abuse, Shawn, arrived for a group session. In her own words, she shared:
“The new building is so powerful. It was a very unexpected and very powerful experience for me seeing the building for the first time. It is a real beacon of Hope. The building for me spoke, ‘Welcome home, we do not need to hide, we are not shameful of you and you need not be ashamed of yourself, this is where you can be loved while you learn to love yourself, you do not have to fight this battle alone anymore, you no longer have to sit in isolation with your demons, here you are validated, here your soul is supported, here is where you can heal and here is where we will show you how.’ “
What a response! Our design team, composed of professionals, HAVEN staff, and community volunteers, worked hard to design and build a building that would be efficient, and allow us to be good stewards of the funds and resources available. We envisioned a building that would support what I call “the magic that happens between the walls”, the work of healing and growth. I did not conceptualize, until reading the words from Shawn, that our building itself is part of that magic.
Shawn ended her note with the following,
“And my special thank you to you, because of you and everyone at HAVEN, we can begin to release our shame and hold our heads up high. You have gifted this to us from leading by example and believing in us to be seen and not hidden. I have spent a lifetime debilitated and crippled by shame. Shame is a silent killer and seeing that building last night actually made me proud to be a survivor.”
So as we toast the beginning of a New Year and a fresh new start, we ask that you consider making a big bold step in 2016. Join us at HAVEN in making a difference. Our new facility has created additional opportunities for volunteerism and community engagement. Domestic and sexual violence is a community issue, one that is not to be veiled in silence. Join us in standing up for Shawn and all the other survivors in our community who are carrying the burden of their victimization all alone.