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Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury: Providing Community Help When It's Needed Most

By Elisha Neubauer

Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality that many women, children, and even men, face on a daily basis. Statistics run high as many of these women have nowhere to turn, no friends to talk to, or close family to come to their aid. These women, these bruised, battered, and emotionally deflated women, need someone to turn to- someone who can help them rise above and start again.

Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury was founded just for this purpose, although originally under another name. "Safe Haven was founded in 1978 as 'Women's Emergency Shelter' by a group of concerned citizens who determined a need for a shelter for battered women in the Waterbury area," explains Lee R. Schlesinger, Executive Director of the Safe Haven. "The founders had the foresight to know that in addition to a shelter, the victims would need other supportive services to enable them to leave the violent home and gain financial and emotional independence from the abusive partner."

In 1996, the agency decided to take it one step further, adding Sexual Assault Crisis Services to the roster. Four years later, in 2000, they adopted the name Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury. "The name change reflects the fact that the agency supports all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including children, teens, men and women," Schlesinger says.

The agency not only aids the victims of domestic abuse, but they aim to spread the word and coach the general public on how to handle situations where others may need encouragement on the next steps to take to exit an abusive relationship. "Leaving an abuser is not an easy thing to do," Schlesinger details. "It is an extremely personal decision. You can encourage someone to do so, but not force them. There are many reasons why someone chooses to stay in an abusive relationship."

He continues, telling us that the best thing someone can do is to speak to a trained counselor in order to develop a safety plan, which would help them to stay safe in the relationship until the decision is made to ultimately exit the relationship. "The best thing you can do is listen to the victim and believe them; be supportive, offer help, do not place blame, shame or guilt on them," she details. "Above all, encourage them to talk to someone who can help."

In addition to the help provided by Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury, there are many other resources and companies available to those affected by domestic violence. "Our entire state is covered by domestic violence and sexual assault programs, with staff trained to handle crisis situations; including 24-hour statewide hotlines for both domestic violence and sexual assault. Society needs to know the signs, get educated and stop the violence," affirms Schlesinger.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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