Taking Shelter at Safe Haven

Experts say women in abusive situations tend to not leave this time of year.

DULUTH, Minn.- According to the National Resource of Domestic Violence Center calls of domestic abuse decline during the holidays. Advocates with Safe Haven Shelter and Resource Center say many reasons play a factor into victims staying in unhealthy relationships during the holidays.

This year the safe haven shelter has serviced over 540 families, but a woman’s advocate says if children are unaware of the violence or abuse in the relationship women tend to not leave this time of year.

“She shouldn’t be judged for being in that relationship, because there’s a lot of factors that play into someone choosing to stay,” woman’s advocate Miranda McAleavey said.

From financial reasons to giving children their typical holiday, advocates say allowing victims to take steps when they decided is important.

“Whatever their pace is, whatever they feel comfortable with, we as an organization or advocates in general would support,” McAleavey said. “It’s hard to know what its like in that situation, she’s the only one that knows what its like.”

We spoke with one survivor whose spending Christmas with her children in the shelter. Her identity will remain anonymous.

“I just want to say thank you to all of the staff, because like I’ve changed since I’ve been here,” Safe Haven resident said.

Safe Haven has a total of 39 beds and is typically at/or over capacity. The shelter serves women from all across the United States. Typically the families seeking shelter are not from the Duluth area, forcing them to leave behind family and friends.

One resident is speaking out, to reach other victims.

“You come to Safe Haven they are your family, you know what I mean. They are your family after you leave. So don’t worry about not having support, or not making it, or just starting over period,” Safe Haven resident said. “People have a problem with that, I just want to let you guys know that I’ve thought it over and I’m doing just fine.”

The holidays can bring a lot of emotions and memories for victims. Workers and residences ban together creating a community. On Christmas they sang karaoke and shared laughs. The children were given many presents with the help of Northlanders and local organizations.

 “A sense of stability is the word, you know like seriously,” Safe Haven resident said. “It’s good I love it they’re happy, that’s the only thing i really wanted today.”

“With all the news and bad things going on; although you know they are here for bad situations, it makes it a little bit better,” McAleavey said.  “Because you know that there are people out there that want to support these people.”

The Safe Haven provides shelter for families for 30 days women can then ask for an extended stay, but advocates say finding affordable housing in Duluth can be troublesome. Recent partnerships with organizations such as life house have helped the victims transition into life after the shelter easier.

“All the women who are still in the situation they are in and are afraid to leave,” Safe Haven resident said. “I just want to say the hardest part is letting go, the hardest part is letting go, like literally.”

If you wish to get in touch with Safe Haven Shelter and Resource Center visit their website or dial 218-728-6481.

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