She walks into our office, with four children in hand. She is weary, but so lovely. Grasping for the words, she musters up the phrase “I have an appointment.” I show the family to our waiting room and offer the mother some coffee, while her children rummage through our lollipop stash. For a moment, we share a laugh about her children's difficulty choosing between green apple or bubblegum lollipops. I remind myself that we have more in common than I think. As they sit there and wait, the mother knows this appointment will change everything. Not knowing her story, but knowing it all too well, she is a familiar stranger to me. Beautiful and broken and brave.
If you would have told me when I graduated college that I would be working for a domestic violence organization, I wouldn’t have believed you. But now, two years later, I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I began my post-college journey, I was led into the realization of how common domestic abuse is. Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten. These women are our mothers, daughters, grandmothers, best friends, college professors, co-workers, your personal trainer, your favorite celebrity, and the lady in front of you at the checkout line at Target. When I learned this, how could I not speak up? How could I not become an advocate in my community?
Here at Safe Haven Ministries, we strive to be a refuge for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. We empower women on their healing journey by offering services such as emergency shelter, support groups, case management and educational trainings. As the Community Relations Coordinator, my role is to share about Safe Haven with members of our community. I find some of our strongest advocates are our churches. Churches have been an intimate part of Safe Haven’s story from the beginning. In fact, 25 years ago we were founded by six CRC churches! This legacy of our humble beginnings lives on in the many churches who share about Safe Haven with their congregation. Whether it is through a resource sign hung on their bulletin board or in a sermon proclaimed from the pulpit, churches are powerful advocates in our community.
If you would like to learn how to share about domestic abuse with your faith community, please reach out to me at [email protected] or (616)452-6664. I would love to help!