History of Safe Havens - Decades of Making an Impact

1984: While working in a domestic violence shelter in Boston, Safe Havens’ founder, Anne Marie Hunter, heard many victims name their faith as the reason they had stayed in an abusive relationship.  

1991: Hunter and other concerned women of faith founded Safe Havens (formerly known as Boston Justice Ministries) to strengthen the capacity of diverse faith communities to play a role in a community-wide effort to respond to victims of domestic violence in Greater Boston. Early support and office space are provided by Old West Church (United Methodist) in downtown Boston. 

1992:  Safe Havens launches the  Vigil Project to help congregations  remember victims of domestic violence, call faith leaders to work with Safe Havens to support those affected by DV, and create long-term social change.  Boston’s Old West Church hosts the first vigil.

2000: Safe Havens begins work with the Jewish Domestic Violence Coalition of Greater Boston and other local Jewish organizations.

2002: Safe Havens is invited to present its Family Violence Prevention Project training model to the National Advisory Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence, a joint committee of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

1998: Safe Havens launches the Family Violence Prevention Project (FVPP), a ground-breaking, comprehensive, protocol-driven, faith-based response to domestic and intimate partner violence.  So far, 60 diverse congregations (Jewish, Muslim, and Christian) have completed the innovative 22-hour training.

2005: Safe Havens introduces Used Cell Phone Drives as a means to educate congregations about domestic violence, engage allies, support victims, and provide funding for Safe Havens’ faith-based programs in Greater Boston. 

2004: Safe Havens launches the Manna in the Wilderness Project to provide outreach and education to faith communities in Greater Boston in order to strengthen prevention, early intervention, accountability, and social change. So far, more than 300 diverse faith leaders (Christian, Muslim, Jewish) in Greater Boston have received training.

2011: Safe Havens partners with the Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the Islamic Center of Boston, Wayland, and the Islamic Council of New England to provide 15 hours of training on Islamic perspectives on peaceful families, values surrounding personal worth and dignity, and responses to domestic violence. 

2008: Safe Havens is chosen by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to collaborate with the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life on the Elder Abuse and Faith Project. A groundbreaking toolkit, Where Faith and Safety Meet, and a partnership guide, Partnering to Address Faith and Safety are created to confront elder abuse.

1993:  Safe Havens begins a campaign of   consciousness raising about domestic violence and faith in congregations across New England.

2003: Safe Havens is invited by the  Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women to provide technical assistance to support advocates across the country.

2004: Safe Havens provides technical assistance to the 15 pilot sites across the U.S. chosen to participate in the President's Family Justice Center Initiative.

2007: Safe Havens begins collaboration with the Peaceful Families Project and local Muslim congregations and service providers to address domestic violence in Boston’s Muslim community.

2007: The Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) and Safe Havens begin to collaborate to train Portuguese-speaking faith leaders and to strengthen MAPS’ capacity to reach out to and train faith leaders. 

2009: Safe Havens is chosen by the Office on Violence Against Women to provide faith-based Technical Assistance to OVW’s rural grantees across the U.S. Safe Havens develops resources, provides training, and launches a web-based platform to support rural advocates and faith leaders.

2013: Safe Havens is chosen by the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) to lead Boston’s participation in the African American Domestic Peace Project

2014: Safe Havens is a partnering agency in the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts’ work to develop and provide culturally competent services to victims and survivors in Boston’s African American community.

2015: Safe Havens bestows its first ever IMPACT Awards on Rev. Traci Jackson Antoine, the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers, and Jake Segal for helping to further Safe Havens's work in "impactful" ways. 

2016: Safe Havens celebrates 25 years of working at the intersection of domestic violence and elder abuse and faith.  Here's to the next 25 years!

2011-2012:  Safe Havens advocates in Washington DC for the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Safe Havens provides important testimony in support of the Department of Justice's VAWA Reauthorization Committee about the impact of VAWA on victims and survivors, and especially on victims and survivors of faith.

2016: Safe Havens receives $100,000 Grant from The Cummings Foundation to expand our Safe With Faith initiative in diverse congregations in Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex counties.

2015: Safe Havens is chosen by the Office on Violence Against Women to provide faith-based Technical Assistance to OVW grantees across the U.S. Safe Havens will develop new resources and provide training.

2016: Safe Havens honors "Individuals and Institutions Making Progress Against Abuse in Communities Together" at its 2016 IMPACT Award event in October. IMPACT Award honorees are Rev. Dr. Jossie Owens, Dr. Nancy Nienhuis, and Andover Newton Theological School.  Safe Havens also honors Izzy Katzman with its inaugural Next Generation Leadership Award.

2017: Safe Havens completes its rural work for OVW which included developing toolkits for rural advocates and faith leaders, a partnership guide, and a training manual. Staff also traveled to 20 rural communities to provide technical assistance to rural service providers and their community faith leaders.

2017: Safe Havens celebrates Professor Emily Rothman, ScD and Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar at its 3rd Annual IMPACT Award celebration.

2017: Safe Havens partners with Journey to Safety, the DV program at Jewish Family & Children’s Services, and the Jewish Domestic Violence Coalition to produce its second annual “Many Voices, One Message” campaign.  More than 100 Jewish clergy across Massachusetts sent the message that domestic abuse will not be tolerated in the Jewish community. Read about the campaign here.