Category Archives: HAVEN news

January is National Stalking Awareness Month


By Karen Wullaert DeKett, MA, LPC, DV/SA Therapist, HAVEN

Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. It can include, but is not limited to:

  • Following someone
  • Making repeated phone calls or sending text messages
  • Making unwanted contact with someone on social media
  • Leaving unwanted gifts
  • Causing property damage, or
  • Making threats against a person or their family, friends, or pets

Stalkers want to gain power and control over another person by creating fear. Stalking is a major and often misunderstood issue in our society. In the United States, 7.5 million people are stalked every year (Breiding et al., 2014). Being victimized by a stalker can lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and significant social difficulties.

In popular culture, stalking is often depicted as a mentally ill stranger obsessively following their victim. However, this is a misrepresentation of many victims’ experience. Between 76% and 86% of victims know their stalker; often, this person is someone they have had a relationship with. 61% of female victims and 41% of male victims are stalked by a current or former partner (Breiding et al., 2014). Stalking can be insidious and stalking behavior may not seem threatening to people outside of the relationship. In fact, it may even be misconstrued as thoughtful or caring.

One of my client’s, Maya, told me that during their divorce her estranged husband would leave flowers, concert tickets, and other gifts on her front porch. “Other people thought he was being sweet or suggested that maybe he was trying to win me back or make amends,” she told me. “But to me, it would create so much fear. I knew it was his way to telling me I was still ‘his’.”

Stalking is not about romance or desire. Stalking is about power and control.

No one deserves to live with the fear and uncertainty of stalking victimization. If you are being stalked or harassed, HAVEN is here to help. We offer many services for victims of stalking, including counseling and legal advocacy. To access HAVEN services, please call our free, 24-hour Crisis and Support Line at (877) 922-1274. Do not suffer in silence; you are not alone.

References: [Matthew J. Breiding et al., “Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization – National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report, Vol. 63, No. 8 (2014)]



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Altered Books, Altered Self-Compassion

Guest Blog by Anne Sutton, MA LPC, HAVEN – Counseling Program

“Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.” – Dr. Kristen Neff, author of Self-Compassion

Self-Compassion as a daily practice can be very difficult for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Trauma alters our inner self-talk, increasing our critical voices and muting our loving compassionate voices. The negative voice can become so strong it becomes a bully. It bellows and overwhelms our quieter, loving voices.

art1 art2Survivors’ representations of the “inner bully,” their negative self-talk

It is important to train our compassionate self because that’s the part of us that is most helpful. If we only listen to the anxious/angry/self-critical part of ourselves, we get a biased view.

We all want to be more loving to ourselves but HOW? What are the tools? What can help us to remember to have self-compassion for ourselves? What can help us quiet our inner bully?

The group members in HAVEN’S on going trauma support group, Surviving and Thriving through Trauma began a lengthy group project focused on increasing feelings of self-compassion and developing a daily self-compassion practice. Each group member developed a personal handbook of self-compassion by creating an Altered Book.


Four of the group members with their completed Altered Books. 

Altered books are an art therapy technique that takes an old hard cover book, destroys it and transforms it into something completely different, something amazingly beautiful and personal.




The group started on this project in early May, 2016 and had a final celebration of their hard work in September. The women started by destroying the original books (most were brought from home or garage sales) to craft pages to create upon. We ripped out pages in the books, leaving large gaps in the books and filling the group room with discarded pages.

We then glued the remaining pages together leaving 10-12 thick and solid pages. These became our foundation to paint, draw, write and collage upon. The group members spent the next 10 weeks reflecting upon and making creative representations of ten key aspects of self-compassion:

  • May I be kind to myself
  • My inner bully
  • Compassionate people in my life
  • A compassionate place
  • A compassionate color
  • Wisdom
  • Strength
  • Responsibility
  • Warmth
  • My perfect nurturer

Here are some more amazing creations:


May I be kind to myself


My compassionate color



My perfect nurturer




The project became a fun, messy and very creative way to address a difficult issue for trauma survivors, learning to be loving to ourselves.


Self-compassion is an important part of ALL of our lives. The group and I would like to share with you one of our favorite self-compassion meditation practices (from Kristen Neff) to use when your inner bully shouts at you or life is just hard:

This is a moment of suffering

                  Suffering is a part of living

                  May I be kind to myself

                                    May I give myself the compassion I need

                                    May I learn to accept myself as I am

                                    May I be strong

                                    May I be safe


My Compassionate Self – cover art



Strength and Wisdom

If you’d like to learn more about the HAVEN Counseling Program, click here.

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Women’s Equality Day 2016

imageGuest Post by Nkenge Burkhead, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

For nearly 100 years, women fought, marched, and rallied against the cultural norms of the time. Women came together to establish the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. Their goal was to ensure women had the right to vote. August 26, 1920, the goal was realized, the constitution was ratified to allow women the same voting rights as men.

Today girls and women are able to walk into voting polls without fear of arrest, knowing their vote will matter. We know that the freedoms we enjoy are often a result of activism by those who came before us. We remember the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, we honor August 26th as Women’s Equality Day.

Susan B. Anthony is recognized as a leader in the suffrage movement. She understood women needed to have a voice in laws that especially affected women and children. While participating in the suffrage movement she also started a campaign for the expansion of married women’s property rights. Alice Paul was also a member of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. She is responsible for organizing the historic Suffrage parade. She strategically planned the march to coincide with President Wilson’s inauguration. She was later arrested for being non-patriotic. Her arrest, and treatment in jail drew necessary attention to the movement. The president ordered her immediate release and announced his support for their cause.

Many women celebrate this victory all over the United States. Some organizations have large annual celebrations. Wisconsin Women’s Network and The Women’s Intercultural Network in San Francisco host events honoring women’s suffrage. San Mateo County History Museum hold a rally for ratification of the ERA. In Albuquerque, Women Organized to Resist and Defend also host a celebration.

2016 marks the 96th anniversary of women voters. It is also a history making year in politics. When voters go into the voting booths this election there will be a woman on the ballot. I am not endorsing or suggesting a vote for any party or candidate. I am observing the connection. The Suffrage Movement was about women having a voice. Women have the option to elect officials of their choosing, and furthermore the option to become an elected official themselves. Casting your vote is using your voice, running for office is using your voice. Voting and asking the women around you if they’ve registered to vote is the best way for all of us to celebrate Women’s Equality Day!

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Engaging Men in Gender Equity

Redefine Blog

Guest Post by Averett Robey, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

This year marks (the end) of the first year of the Detroit Lions partnership with HAVEN to bring redefine, our young men’s leadership development program, to Oakland and Wayne Counties. As the school year closed earlier this season, I reflected upon all the schools, classrooms, educators, and dedicated and awesome students we had the opportunity to engage and meet. We were fortunate enough to celebrate these students’ dedication and commitment to ending violence in their communities in a big way. Together we celebrated the young men’s completion of the program with an event at Ford Field. It was an opportunity for them to meet former and current Lions players, get signed memorabilia, and go on a tour through the locker room and field. Not only was the event remarkable, but having an opportunity to hear students say “This is the best day ever,” “Thank you for bringing this to our school,” and “Can’t we be in the program next year?” was an awesome experience.

To anyone looking from the outside, they would most likely assume that hearing those statements was the best thing about the whole experience. However, to me it is not. You see, redefine is not only about building empathy and teaching young men about the epidemic of intimate partner and sexual violence. It is about working with young men to redefine what it means to be a man. To develop a definition that is not rooted in violence, domination, or control, but centers on respect, equity, and empathy. This is crucial for a couple of reasons. First, the current definition is taught, and then reinforced, to help build a foundation where violence is linked to masculinity. Sayings like “get up, and act like a man!” and “don’t let nobody disrespect you” are great examples of how we teach men and boys this toxic definition every day. All of these things work together to create the reality where 90+ of every 100 violent crimes are committed by men, 88.8% of homicide offenders from 1980-2008 were men, and where 99.8% of convicted rapists are men. These statistics do not mean that most men would commit these crimes, it is a small percentage of men that do, but what is important is how we work with the men and boys who would never perpetrate that violence to intervene and become change agents. This is important because violence affects everyone, people they love and care about; as well as, themselves. Its impact on men and boys is great. This toxic definition of masculinity, linked with stoicism, works in tandem to create a framework where less than 50% of boys and men with mental health issues seek help and every day in the U.S. 3 or more boys commit suicide.

For me the greatest part of our redefine program is working with young men to redefine masculinity, to establish working definitions that help create the change that we desperately need. Our program is an intentional push away from other prevention efforts that focuses on putting women on pedestals and “protecting” them, and instead centers on working alongside women and girls to eliminate intimate partner and sexual violence. This is key because it is only in equity that we can create sustainable systemic change. It is on all of us to come together to eliminate violence in our communities.

For more information on violent masculinity and its impact, access these hyperlinks.

To bring prevention programming to your school in Oakland County, Michigan in the coming year contact our Prevention Education Program at HAVEN.

If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence or experiencing power and control dynamic in their relationship that feels abusive or unsafe HAVEN is here to help. Our crisis and support line is always open for you 877-922-1274. 

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A Healing Space

Meditation Garden

HAVEN’s Meditation Garden

Guest post by Karen Wullaert DeKett, MA, LPC, DV/SA Therapist, HAVEN

HAVEN clients frequently come to us in crisis. They feel angry, scared, and sad. HAVEN is a place where they can come to feel safe and supported. It can be a sanctuary from the chaos that experiencing trauma creates.

Research has shown that meditation can be a critical component of well-being. Meditation increases positive emotions while reducing negative feelings like fear, anger, and sadness. Meditation also offers an individual the chance to reconnect with themselves. For survivors of domestic and sexual violence, meditation can be both healing and empowering. It can help them feel in control of their emotions and more connected to their bodies.

HAVEN has long encouraged our survivors to utilize meditation as one tool of healthy healing. When we were in our Bingham Farms office, we had a special room designated for meditation. Clients could come and use the room before or after their counseling sessions. The move to the HAVEN Community Center has allowed us to offer an additional healing space, the meditation garden.

I encourage my clients to use the meditation garden, as well as other quiet spaces, as part of their self-care practice. The meditation garden is a beautiful and restorative place where they can reflect and find center. It gives them a break from the pressures and stresses of their days. It helps them feel calm and connected to their thoughts and feelings.

For survivors of domestic and sexual trauma, the road to healing is long and challenging. Offering spaces like the meditation garden is one way that HAVEN helps support survivors along on their healing journeys.



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May our Paths Cross Again

Board2-OAK-Jul (2)

L. Brooks Patterson and Oakland County Commissioners honor Beth Morrison for her many  years of service at HAVEN. 

Somewhat unbelievable but here it is, my final days at HAVEN.  When my husband and I first began to discuss making our dream happen, returning to Tucson, the idea seemed so far away. Now, our home is nearly packed up, my office is looking rather bare, and the to do list is significantly shorter. These last two months have flown by so quickly.

When I reflect back on my time here, there are so many memorable moments. It is hard to capture what stands out the most but what I loved most about HAVEN is the relationships created. HAVEN gave me the opportunity to meet and connect with many wonderful individuals – staff, board members, volunteers, donors, supporters, and community leaders.  I have felt blessed a thousand times over by having such great support; vital support as we worked daily together to make the world a slightly safer place.

I have also been honored by standing witness to the stories of survivors, hearing their struggles and triumphs. Many of these stories I will forever carry with me, forever imprinted in my soul. Although my new position will not be domestic and sexual violence centric, I will remain a strong ally and advocate for survivors, fueled by standing witness for so many years to the injustice they encounter.

Over the past week, I had the simple daily task of adding water to our meditation garden fountain. Each day that I stood, garden hose in hand, a shelter resident sat quietly under the pagoda. She always greeted me but then went back to her reading, writing, or just simply sitting in this quiet and reflective space.  After a couple of days, she shared with me how full of gratitude she was for having this space, a  place where she could just be. We chatted for a bit about how we all need sacred space, personal space to be safe and be free. She shared how she had lost herself and how slowly, with HAVEN’s help, was slowly rediscovering who she was and who she wanted to be going forward.

And that is what HAVEN does – sometimes we just simply provide that safe space, that safe moment, that safe listening. We are facilitators of personal change and growth. And through the literally thousands of moments that I too had at HAVEN, I have grown beyond measure. My heart is full.

In closing of my final “Beth’s Blog”, I thank each of you for your support over my tenure at HAVEN. I, like you, look forward to following HAVEN’s next chapter and its success in advancing its mission. I know that good things lie in store for the organization and am excited for its future leader. I will remain, even if 2,000 miles away, one of HAVEN’s biggest ambassadors and supporters.

Best wishes to one and all, may our paths cross in the future.

Gratitude is a poem…..whispered from one heart to another.  Thank you.


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What does independence mean to you?


Guest post by Meilani Wilder, HAVEN Intern

When people hear the word “independence,” often “The 4th of July” or “America” comes to mind. If we look at the definition of independence, Merriam-Webster simply breaks it down as, “freedom from outside control or support.” One might think that independence is a fundamental right for all, but for many, it is still a difficult right to gain, especially for those who suffer from abuse.

Victims of domestic violence can sometimes feel that they are prisoners of their situation. It can be difficult to imagine the abuse coming to an end and, often, the weight of the abuse can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical health. In an effort to maintain control, abusers may convince their victims that the abuse is their fault,  making it even harder to leave the situation.

That is why HAVEN is here; to help give domestic violence victims a voice where they can regain their rightful independence. We work daily to help provide an experience and environment where victims of domestic violence can identify as survivors while feeling supported and protected. We also work to give each person we serve the tools they need to regain their independence.

We offer a counseling program that includes one-on-one sessions as well as group therapy to help those that have experienced abuse on their journey of healing. Survivors often report after speaking with a HAVEN counselor; they feel that it was the first time they’ve shared their plight without feeling judged.

Counselors are specially trained to address the safety needs and concerns of domestic violence survivors. At HAVEN, the client determines her counseling goals in collaboration with the counselor. No diagnosis or labels are given because being victimized is not a mental health issue. All counseling programs at HAVEN are offered free of charge.

If you know someone who is suffering from domestic violence, offer her your ear and share information about HAVEN.  She may be feeling alone, scared or confused. Not knowing where to go or whom to ask for help can make a traumatic experience even scarier. By letting her know organizations like HAVEN are here to help, you can help her ease some of those feelings and start to focus on gaining back control of her life. Moving closer to independence.

For more information on our counseling program, click here. If you or someone you love is in need of immediate support, please call our 24-hour Crisis and Support Line at 877-922-1274.

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Our Children Learn Through Many

Some Superheros don't have capes...

As we get ready to embark on our cross country move to Arizona, we are keeping ourselves busy with nightly sorting, purging, and packing. This weekend, our son Colin came home to go through his items which we have continued to store at our home. The best part of this process, at least with him, is the constant walk down memory lane – photos, childhood books, toys, school papers, and many other treasures. At certain moments in the process, time stood still.

One reason that kept us in Michigan longer than our bargained 2-3 years (nearly 25 years ago), was the want to raise our only child near my rather large extended family. It was important to us to create space for our son to be exposed to and have the experience of being part of this greater family system. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents became and continue to be a significant part of Colin’s life, even today as he is clearly planted in adulthood.

Our children don’t learn how to be a responsible adult or a caring parent just through us, the parents. They learn it through their exposure to so many others in their lives – relatives, teachers, neighbors, friends, and the culture at large. As parents, we opted to stack the deck, and give Colin as many positive influences as possible.

In addition to learning how to fish from one of his uncles, he also learned the importance of education. In addition to learning how to drive a boat from another uncle, he learned the importance of having a strong work ethic. These are lessons his father and I also tried to impart, absolutely, but I’m sure the reinforcement from others made a difference.

Many children are raised without the presence of their father. Divorce, deployment, and abuse are possible reasons but also some women opt for single parenthood or in many families, two women are raising their children. There is no right or wrong configuration of parents, in my book. But having positive male influence is important. Thankfully there are many uncles, brothers, cousins, and friends who can fill that role. The role of modeling, for young boys and girls, that men can be caring, nurturing, loving, and kind.

At HAVEN we are fortunate to have men engaged with our services and programming. They share, by example, that equality works, that women and children matter, and that masculinity doesn’t mean power and harm.

To the men of HAVEN and to the incredible men in my life, thank you. Thanks for serving daily as a reminder of what can be right in the world. Thank you for standing by me, instead of in front of me. Thank you for teaching my son that he doesn’t have to be stuck in a stereotyped role of masculinity. Thank you for caring and for making a difference.

And to those that are Fathers – Happy Fathers Day!

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Bittersweet – defined by Webster’s as pleasure alloyed with pain. But today it is defined by me as a mix of sadness, tears, excitement, challenge, and change. After 13 years at HAVEN, my bittersweet moment of saying goodbye has come.

I will be leaving this incredible organization at the end of July and moving to my home away from home, Tucson, Arizona. I have accepted the position of CEO at another wonderful nonprofit organization in Tucson, Our Family Services. For years, it has been a dream of my husband and me to return to the beauty of the desert, and it is now time to make that dream a reality. With family ties to Arizona and great memories of having lived there a number of years ago, we are anxious to make our return.

My time at HAVEN is one filled with so much adventure, joy, success, friendship, growth, and service. This organization is special. The rich history of serving the community, the incredible staff and volunteers, the position of financial strength, and the partnership with so many other amazing organizations and agencies, makes it especially difficult to say goodbye.

But an organization, such as HAVEN, is bigger than one individual. I am confident that it will continue to grow, flourish, and remain a high quality program for years to come. Its new leader will have many challenges but with the continued dedication and support of the community, she will find the same support that I found.

Over the past decade, we have stabilized our financial picture, added an incredible depth and breadth of services due to our collaborations and partnerships, and built a beautiful space to do our work. These successes are due to the concentrated efforts of a dedicated board of directors, the expertise and passion of our staff, and the belief and trust of our funders and supporters. Clearly I am not the only person who knows just how special HAVEN is and will continue to be for years to come.

To the thousands of survivors that have been served by HAVEN during my tenure, I offer you my thanks. Thank you for allowing me to play a part, directly or indirectly, in your healing journey. In observing your courage and strength, you have challenged me to be a better person.

To the HAVEN staff, board, and volunteers, I thank you for your passion and dedication to a mission which often seems unsurmountable. But if there was ever a group of people who can achieve this giant challenge, it is you. The incredible culture at HAVEN is what kept me motivated to do my best and to weather a few storms along the way.

To the community of donors, funders, and supporters, I thank you for your faith and trust in my ability to be a good steward of your support and to lead HAVEN to go forth and do good. To think that an agency of our size can provide quality services and programming to nearly 20,000 individuals each year and to do so when 50% of our budget must be raised each and every year directly from our community is a bit crazy. Your belief in the importance of our work and your dedication to giving us the tools to do our work is what makes change happen.

Thank you for allowing me to have both the honor and the privilege to lead HAVEN. I can’t wait to see the greatness which happens next!

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Feed. People.

Garden Project

Feed people. A few weeks ago, a planning meeting for the HAVEN Garden Project revolved around those two words – feed people. And for the past six years, that is what this incredible project has done; feed the people of HAVEN, to the tune of 2 tons of fresh produce each year.

When our small founders group comprised of Michigan Young Farmer Coalition members Ben Gluck and Alexis Bogdanova Hanna, and HAVEN Director of Business Operations Marianne Dwyer and I, sat down we knew we had accomplished much more than the nutritional value of the food consumed. Our simple idea from seven years ago had far exceeded increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables available in the shelter. It had become a vital program within HAVEN, a program devoted to the holistic care, personal growth, and the sanctity of the garden space.

Our accomplishments over the past six years are many. In addition to the 12 tons of produce grown, we also have:

  • Educated hundreds of individuals about growing organic produce.
  • Taught multiple concepts of nutrition and health.
  • Created a space for quiet reflection and meditation.
  • Shown children, as well as adults, how real food is grown and harvested from the earth instead of a can.

The list goes on – the growing food led to conversations and training on budgeting, food preservation, land stewardship, mental and emotional health, and exercise. Who would have imagined that growing tomatoes, carrots, onions and more would add such depth to our programming?

A few summers ago, a woman residing in our shelter program was in the garden daily. In addition to using the produce to make some rather amazing meals, she often reflected on how she found her time in the garden to be soothing and she was able to use the quiet space to think and sort through her plans for the future.

The children in our residential program also have enjoyed the garden over the years, finding it a place of fun and learning. The children have had scavenger hunts, helped with planting and harvesting, food tasting contests, and learned to cook some great dishes. Imagine doing all of this while reaping the benefits of fresh air, exercise, and a beautiful setting. And imagine having this opportunity while healing from trauma and abuse.

At our new location, we are excited about the growth of our garden space. This year we are starting small with approximately 20 raised beds of vegetables and strawberries, but plans are in the works over the next several years to have an orchard and to expand to nearly an acre of growing space. We will soon add a children’s garden, gazebo for respite and educational sessions, additional berries, herb garden, and larger crops. The support of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan is instrumental in literally allowing our garden to grow!

We have accomplished much and institutionalized the garden due to the dedicated volunteerism and financial support of the community. The vast majority of all the necessary garden labor is completed by volunteers and the expenses of the garden covered by donors. The work has truly become a labor of love for many. If you would like to join our efforts, we can always use some additional garden volunteers as well as financial contributions.

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