Safe Haven of Pender County provides hope, healing and help for victims of domestic abuse in Pender and Duplin counties.
Everyone knows someone who has been affected by domestic violence — and the statistics are staggering, with as many as one in four women and one in seven men experiencing domestic violence during their lifetimes.
On a typical day there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide, and in North Carolina intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crimes committed. It should be noted that domestic violence isn’t always physical; it includes any behavior used to harm or manipulate someone, and our state’s data shows that it can take a victim about seven times to leave an abusive relationship before permanently escaping their situation.
The numbers don’t lie … providing support to survivors and victims is vital work, and educating people about how to help is just as important.
Enter Safe Haven. More than 30 years ago, the organization was founded by local volunteers concerned about the increasing number of rape cases throughout Pender County. Seeking a solution, these volunteers sought training on how to respond to rape calls and implement a rape hotline. It didn’t take long for the Pender County Commissioners to recognize the importance of the cause, and they donated $500 to start a pager system. While this system’s lifetime was brief due to few volunteers and callers, the desire to provide resources for these victims was not diminished.
Flash forward to the present, and Safe Haven is now an official nonprofit serving domestic abuse victims and survivors throughout Pender and Duplin counties, a total area of about 1,750 square miles. Safe Haven provides emergency shelter, services, resources and referrals to those who need to get out of abusive situations. Essentially, the organization’s goal is to help “empower and teach self-sufficiency to victims of abuse.”
Lori Kirkpatrick, Safe Haven’s outreach coordinator, has been working with the organization for almost three years. In addition to organizing outreach projects, Kirkpatrick works with clients, teaches English as a Second Language and financial empowerment classes, provides presentations to various school, civic and church groups and works to widen Safe Haven’s social media reach, along with directing various daily operations.
“The restoration of a survivor’s power over his or her own life is the driving force behind what we do,” Kirkpatrick says. “We also work to educate the community and heighten public awareness so that we can prevent domestic violence and end the cycle of abuse.”
How to Support Safe Haven
While Safe Haven offers aid from domestic violence year-round, October marks Domestic Violence Awareness month, meaning the organization is hosting several events throughout the month.
The Clothesline Project took place on October 15, letting survivors, alongside their friends and family, create t-shirts that illustrate their individual stories and processes toward healing. The shirts were displayed as a visual reminder of domestic violence statistics and stories that can, too often, be swept under the rug. This was held at Safe Haven Thrift Shoppe in Hampstead from 11 am to 2 pm and at the former Dee’s Drug Store in Burgaw from 11 am to 2 pm.
“The purpose of the project is to increase awareness of the impact of violence and abuse, to honor each survivor’s strength to continue, and to provide another avenue for them to courageously break the silence that often surrounds their experience,” Kirkpatrick says.
Community members are invited to Light the Town Purple, by picking up purple light bulbs, string lights and signs from the Safe Haven Empowerment Center to display around town (donating when picking up supplies is optional but encouraged).
The Domestic Violence Awareness Walk and Candlelight Vigil is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on October 20 starting at Brown Dog Coffee and ending at Hankins Park with slated speakers including Rev. Judge James H. Faison III, District Attorney Legal Assistant Shequana Pulliam and other community leaders. A Domestic Violence Awareness Walk is also being held in Duplin County on Friday, October 14 at 10:30 am, at the Duplin County Courthouse and DSS Building.
“Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate; it can happen in every community, and victims can be any gender, race, or socioeconomic status,” Kirkpatrick says. “At Safe Haven, we are committed to doing our part to stop the cycle of domestic violence.”
Safe Haven is always looking for volunteers and community members wanting to help can contribute with their time or resources.
Here are some of the ways you can help:
– Make a monetary donation
– Donate new or gently used items to their thrift store
– Volunteer at the thrift stores or shelter
– Do a community service project for the shelter
– Donate hygiene items and feminine products to the shelter