Tag Archives: domestic violence

Susan and her Boots


Guest post by Anne Sutton, MA, LPC, HAVEN 

The story of Susan, her children, and her boots demonstrate how HAVEN’S services can be woven intricately into the fabric of a family’s life. Susan’s story spans many years and between the many physical locations of HAVEN.

In the early 2000’s Susan was violently beaten and repeatedly kicked by her partner (who was wearing heavy work boots at the time).  The father of her young son attacked her at her place of work.  He jumped through a glass window to attack her. Susan and her children were taken to the old HAVEN Shelter once she was released from the hospital.   Susan’s perpetrator was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for his crimes. Susan and her children stayed in the shelter and slowly began to rebuild their lives.

Susan herself writes of her time in the old shelter so poignantly:  “some people get college sorority sisters, I got sisters of surviving abuse. We got to tell our stories; we got to go to group therapy to listen to positive things we probably have never heard about ourselves. I received counseling from therapists who were not only kind but strong women who were role models.  We survived our abuse and lived to tell about it. Our souls may have been cracked, but we had a place to go where we were accepted.  If a family is a place where everyone’s feelings matter, then HAVEN is part of my family.”

Susan spent the next ten years away from HAVEN’S services. She and her children were safe, and her children grew into adulthood. Susan returned briefly to individual counseling as the perpetrator’s release date approached. HAVEN advocates helped her with legal safety issues, and she resumed individual counseling, this time at our Bingham Farms offices. In sessions, Susan reflected on her time at the shelter and the importance she placed, then and now, on wearing big heavy boots. Perhaps, donning the boots is a reflection of the assault she endured or a reflection of her personal strengths, or maybe a bit of both. She continued to wear her boots every day and to every session.

In late 2015, Susan returned to individual sessions with HAVEN, this time at our beautiful new location. Susan’s body had been significantly weakened by major health crises, but she was still wearing the old, heavy work boots that represented so much to her.  She now used a walker to move about in those boots. Susan was moved by the old shelter doors that are displayed in our lobby. Susan recognized them right away as the doors to the place of safety and caring she had stayed at so long ago.



Susan proudly took a picture of herself and her boots in front of those beautiful doors.

As she expressed in her words: “I drifted my whole life not planting any roots because my boots were always ready to go, my bag always packed, looking for a safe spot from the latest trauma. My wish is that there is a small part of me that can stay there, as a survivor, in the old convent and a piece of me will be at HAVEN. Perhaps then my soul will have peace.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please call our 24-hour Crisis and Support Line at 877-922-1274. 



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Looking Back to March Forward


Guest post by: Nkenge Burkhead, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

March is a month of many celebrations. The March celebration that is most dear to my heart is the observation of Women’s History Month. A time to acknowledge our fore-mothers who made noise, made progress, made room for change, and made herstory! When you celebrate the fortitude of a community of people you must also recognize the forces they are up against.

Sadly, one of the factors that give women a similar connective experience is the constant threat of sexual and physical violence. Women are disproportionately targeted (1 in 3 women) and have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. When over 33% of a single community report surviving intimate partner violence, and then we consider the number of women who are not in a position to report their experiences, we can assume that at some point in our lifetime we will either become a victim or know and love a woman who is a victim of gender-based violence.

This is an unavoidable plot in our story. Women are at risk of being preyed upon by abusers in dark alleys near our jobs, but also in well-lit hallways near our kid’s room. Intimate partner abuse (wife beating as it’s been called) wasn’t against the law in the United States until 1920. There were no legal consequences in place until the 1970’s, and The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994. The statistics are appalling. The response survivors have received from police, medical staff, and even friends and family are often injurious and insensitive.

It is a time to proclaim that yes women have been victimized, but that women have also been on the front lines for the progression of services and support concerning intimate partner violence. March is a time to celebrate Women’s History! We celebrate women and their contribution to raising awareness, providing support, and challenging social attitudes around violence against women.

This month we have been motivated by Oleta “Lee” Abrams, who co-founded the first rape crisis center in the U.S. In response to her daughter’s rape and lack of support from the doctor who treated her daughter after she was attacked. Oleta and two friends opened Bay Area Women Against Rape. This center is still open today.

We are encouraged by Erin Pizzey. Erin established the first domestic violence shelter in Europe more than 40 years ago (1970). She also wrote one of the first books on the topic “Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear” in 1974.

We are indebted to Maria Macias who was killed by her estranged husband when police failed to enforce her restraining order after 22 calls for help.

Today the U.S. has over 1,900 shelters or support programs for survivors. While the survivors continue to out-number the beds, there are 1,900 places with caring people who will listen and believe survivors. Those same people ask how we can systematically end this and remember the history and attempt to reshape the future for women.

How will you March forward into the rest of the 2016? Will you read more about accomplishments women have contributed? Will you donate to a local domestic violence shelter? Will you teach the boys and men in your life about consent?

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

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Only 1 in 16 Rapists…



I am somewhat of a news junkie but too much news, for me at least, is not healthy for my soul. In the past few weeks due to vacation, evening obligations, and the horrible political discord being covered by the media, I fell into a much needed media break. The other day, someone asked me my thoughts on the arrest of Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III for sexual assault and I was clueless.

Being an advocate to end sexual violence and having once lived in the Lansing area, I jumped online. The story of Mr. Dunnings on its own was horrific but I also found another headline. High profile former athlete Mateen Cleaves was also in the news for sexual assault charges and buried within his article was mention of another former MSU athlete, Branden Dawson, arrested for domestic violence. In just one day, three high profile individuals arrested.

Needless to say, arrests for violence against women happen daily across the US and here in Michigan, not all make the news. With the statistics, 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence and 1 in 5 women will be a victim of sexual assault, we know these crimes happen daily. But we also know that both domestic violence and especially sexual violence are two of the least reported forms of victimization. Although the incident rate is high, low reporting rates aid in keeping the media coverage rate low, hence these high profile cases stick out and grab us.

All perpetrators of violence should be held accountable, high profile or the average citizen. Based on statistics from the US Department of Justice, most rapists are not held accountable.

Jailed-rapists December 2014

Image credit: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). See reference information below.

The simple answer often becomes pushing victims to report an assault. But as a community, we have to be fully prepared for her report and frankly, we aren’t there yet. First, there are numerous reasons why rape is not reported – fear of further harm from the rapist (over 66% of rapists know their victim), retribution, loss of employment. But primarily, many rape victims do not report or seek help because they won’t be believed – believed by family, friends, police, and others.

So when we look at these high profile cases, we can salute the fact that the system worked. The laws on the books were enforced, investigators did their legwork, and now prosecutors will do their part. Yes, these individuals are innocent until proven guilty but we must not forget the survivors of the assaults as well. When the community, without full knowledge of what occurred, jump on the band wagon of blaming the victim, we continue to tell other victims to not speak up. Let’s lift up survivors of rape by standing with them, while we let the process work.

The above graphic scares me to no end – only 1 in 16 rapists will ever spend a day in jail. We must flip that statistic. We can only do so by starting at a place of believing and supporting survivors and insisting on social change. Work with us to place the burden of accountability on perpetrators of violence and not on those victimized. Click here to learn more.

  1. Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2008-2012
  2. FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, Arrest Data: 2006-2010
  3. FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, Offenses Cleared Data: 2006-2010
  4. Department of Justice, Felony Defendents in Large Urban Counties: 2009
  5. Department of Justice, Felony Defendents in Large Urban Counties: 2009





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Nicole Simpson

1994 Premiere "Naked Gun 33 1/3"

LOS ANGELES – MARCH 16: O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson pose at the premiere of the “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Isult” in which O.J. starred on March 16, 1994 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

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

On February 2nd, FX aired the first episode of a ten-part series, The People vs. OJ Simpson. The series follows the 1995 double murder trial of famed football player and actor, OJ Simpson. Simpson was accused and later acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her acquaintance, Ronald Goldman. Much of the prosecution’s case against OJ focused on the fact that he had a long history of physical and emotional abuse against Nicole.


Although this was a high profile case involving a celebrity, domestic violence occurs in homes across the country and disproportionately affects women. Studies suggest that one in three women have been abused by a partner or former partner. Domestic violence tends to increase in frequency and intensity over time. Although some may feel like what happened to Nicole Brown Simpson is an extreme case, research suggests that about half of women who are murdered in the United States are killed by a partner or former partner.


Domestic violence may feel like an overwhelming problem, but there is a lot that individuals can do to help survivors. First, you need to recognize the signs that someone is being abused. These signs may include:

  • They seem afraid or anxious to please their partner.
  • They go along with everything their partner says and does.
  • They check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing.
  • They talk about their partner’s temper or possessiveness.
  • They have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
  • They withdraw from family and friends.
  • They show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
  • They seem depressed, anxious, or suicidal. If you are concerned that someone you care about is being abused, here are some ways that you can support them:
  • Share your concerns with the person. Let them know that you want to help them.
  • Emphasize that the abuse is not “normal” and it is not their fault. No one deserves to be abused.
  • Respect their decisions. They may not be ready or willing to leave the relationship.
  • Provide them with community resources, like HAVEN’s Crisis & Support Line.
  • If you feel helpless or discouraged, remember that by being supportive and present, you are doing a lot to help.
  • Get support for yourself. HAVEN can provide services to you as well.


Domestic violence thrives in silence and shame. Don’t be afraid to speak out and get help. HAVEN is here to help survivors of domestic violence and their supporters. To access services or get help, call our 24-hour Crisis and Support Line at 877-922-1274. To learn more, visit our website at www.haven-oakland.org. You are not alone.



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Dear Olivia

Valentine's Day

Dear Olivia,

I know you are only 8 years old but it is time to have a talk about Valentine’s Day. Even at the ripe age of 8, we have already sold you a bill of goods about February 14th. We have wrapped this day up into a giant package of love, love, and love.

It is my hope that your generation will get the day right. The focus of the day being about healthy caring relationships, especially the relationship you have with yourself. Your worth is not based on the size of a box of candy or the number of flowers in a bouquet. Your worth is not tied to a romantic relationship.

Remember this, love is beautiful and wonderful and it can also be confusing, frustrating, and disappointing but it is NEVER abusive and violent. Love is about give and take, not power and control. It is about mutual sacrifice and compromise, not fear and hurt. It is a balance of both individual’s needs, wants, and wishes.

Know that a healthy relationship allows you to be you, not some made up version where you exist to please someone else. And you, Olivia, are remarkable! You are smart, funny, caring, strong, determined, and just right.

Happy Valentine’s Day Olivia! May your day be filled with fun, your heart filled with joy, and your spirit filled with knowing that you are enough.

Aunt Beth

Why am I having this conversation with Olivia at age 8? Did you know that teen dating violence behaviors typically begin between the ages of 12 and 18 (2008, National Council on Crime and Delinquency)? And that 1 in 3 adolescents in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner a figure that exceeds rates of all other types of youth violence (2000 American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center)?

It is never too early to have a conversation with our children about healthy relationships, body autonomy, and love. Boys and girls of all ages need to be armed with correct information and given the direct nod to talk about these critical topics. It is estimated that only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about it (2005 Liz Claiborne research). And nearly even more scary than that, 81% of parents believe that teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it is an issue (2004 Family Violence Prevention Fund).

The Olivia’s in our lives need to know that talking about violence is ok. They also need to know that they are worthy of love and respect – from everyone. We need to send these messages with great frequency and clarity. We are responsible for raising a generation where love doesn’t equal fear.

HAVEN offers age-appropriate Prevention Education programs for children and teens that cover many topics including, personal safety, gender respect and healthy relationship skills. Click here to request a speaker or to learn more. 



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Truth. Respect. Communication.

Print ad, created by the team at Campbell Ewald, for the "Nice Guy" campaign.

Print ad, created by the team at Campbell Ewald, for the “Nice Guy” campaign.

Guest blog by: Jim Feltz, Senior Copywriter, Campbell Ewald

There are a lot of ingredients that go into a healthy long-term relationship. Trust. Respect. And certainly among the most important is good communication.

Over the last 15 years, HAVEN and Campbell Ewald have been working together to raise awareness and reach victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Oakland County. It’s an enormous issue that affects one in three homes. And with each and every piece of communication that we develop as a team, another message of hope and healing is spread throughout the area.

From creating invitations and materials for fundraising events to developing full PSA campaigns, our relationship has really made a positive impact on the community. And while all of the advertising HAVEN and Campbell Ewald have collaborated on over the years has put the mission of awareness and support first, the “Nice Guy” campaign does so by staring abusers right in the eye.

Together, our team developed a strategy to show who abusers really are and what their internal justifications sound like. We knew that, as hard as it may be to see and hear, when people were presented with the real words between the lines, they might be encouraged to offer a little help — or perhaps seek it for themselves.

That simple, truthful insight led to the creation of a fully integrated campaign — print ads, online banners, posters, billboards and more. Each piece of communication sends a powerful message, encouraging victims to seek help and safety from violence.

As HAVEN and Campbell Ewald worked to create this awareness campaign, we had the opportunity to build more relationships with generous and talented people who donated their time and efforts to this cause. One relationship in particular was with the director of our television spot — two-time Academy Award winner, Angus Wall.

This television commercial was an intense piece of communication. It’s a startling face-to-face with an abuser — we see who he is, how he uses manipulation as a threat and how dangerous a villain like this can be. We identify him directly. It’s a perfectly clear communication, not only to victims, but abusers as well.

The campaign was a huge success, resulting in a huge spike in donations to the Capital Campaign — a fundraising effort for the new HAVEN facility. It’s also earned several awards and a lot of national buzz — including AdWeek’s “Ad of the Day.”

While awards and recognition are a great pat on the back for what HAVEN and Campbell Ewald did together, the more important part about it to us is that the message was communicated to a much larger audience. Because when more people are aware, the stronger and more effective we can be as we work to eradicate domestic violence and sexual assault. We helped spread that message together.

And all that is made possible through having a healthy relationship — a long-term relationship that gets stronger every day that we work together. One that really embraces the true power of communication.

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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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