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The Difference 30 Years Makes

A Letter from Safe Havens' Co-Director, the Rev. Dr. Anne Marie Hunter

Dear Safe Havens Community,

Safe Havens has just launched a wonderful new website, and it’s really a joy to browse. There are resources for diverse faith leaders and faith communities about domestic violence, stalking, dating violence, elder abuse, and sexual assault. There are resources that highlight the LGBTQ+ community, the Latin@ community, the African-American community, rural communities, and non-rural communities. There are resources for faith leaders who are responding to people who abuse their intimate partners as well as resources for sexual and domestic violence advocates who are building partnerships with their local faith communities. Not to mention information about training and technical assistance. It’s an embarrassment of riches!

We are deeply grateful for these resources because it hasn’t always been this way.

When Safe Havens was started 30 years ago, there were few resources for faith communities about abuse. Seminaries and rabbinic schools didn’t teach about this. There were no research or best practices. The silence in faith communities was deafening. As a result, when survivors of abuse turned to their faith communities for help, they often heard things like, “pray harder” or “forgive and forget” or “make this marriage work no matter what.”

Over the last 30 years, there has been a profound change! We have taught faith communities to believe and support survivors. We have taken on scriptures and traditions that have been barriers to safety. We have brought awareness and prevention to congregations, and have encouraged them to use their prophetic voices to condemn abuse. We have made a difference.

Last month, we asked some of the faith leaders we have trained over the years to tell us what they would say if a survivor of abuse turned to them for help. Here’s some of what we heard:

This is a significant change in the way that survivors of abuse are heard, helped, and healed. With your support, Safe Havens has been an important leader in this change.

We are asking you, our fellow-celebrants in these amazing accomplishments, to translate your gratitude and pride into support that will launch Safe Havens’ work into the next three decades. From hearts bursting with gratitude, and hearts longing for more hope, safety, and justice for survivors of abuse, let’s dig deep and do this together.

Many thanks for your support, and best wishes for a joyous holiday season,

To donate online, please visit

Rev. Dr. Anne Marie Hunter

Safe Havens Co-Director

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