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Thoughts from the Board: Why do I support Safe Havens?

We asked some of our board members to share why they feel it is important to serve on the Board of Safe Havens. Here are their responses:

I first learned about Safe Havens when they came to visit my faith community in the Spring of 2015 and talked about their work. I had left my faith community in college a few years prior after witnessing the ways that survivors of domestic and sexual violence were blamed for their experience and wrestled deeply with my understanding of God over the following years. Tears filled my eyes as I learned about the incredible work that Safe Havens was doing to ensure that faith communities are safe places for survivors to share their stories and that my faith community cared enough about this issue to invite Safe Havens to present. Learning about the work of Safe Havens and receiving further training on domestic violence through the Safe with Faith program inspired me to listen deeper to my own vocational call to work at the intersections of interpersonal violence and faith communities.


In my work as a Domestic Violence Advocate and Trauma Therapist over the last three years, faith and spirituality come up frequently in conversations with survivors. Community, connection, and frameworks of meaning-making are deeply important to the healing process for survivors, which is why the work of Safe Havens is vital in our faith communities and local violence response agencies. In relationships where abuse is present, the humanity of survivors is denied again and again. We need faith communities and Advocates who welcome the survivor in bringing their full self, especially their sometimes complex questions around faith and meaning. I serve on the Board of Safe Havens because I care deeply about building more trauma-informed faith communities and more faith-informed violence response organizations so that no one has to choose between faith and safety.


- Liz Marshall

Trafficking Intervention Project Advocate at Beth Israel Medical Center; Domestic Violence Advocate at Massachusetts General Hospital; Postulant for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts


 

Why do I serve on the Safe Havens board? Because someone very close to me is a survivor of domestic violence. And it wasn’t until I was introduced to Safe Havens that I made the connection between the intersection of faith and domestic violence.


Judaism and Jewish values have always been important in my life. When I attended a talk given by Alyson from Safe Havens at my synagogue, Congregation Or Atid, I realized how a term I was familiar with - Shalom Bayit - could be used to pressure Jewish women to stay in abusive relationships.


Shalom Bayit, which translates from Hebrew to “peace in the home,” was traditionally used by Rabbis during couples counseling to encourage the wife to take responsibility for creating a peaceful home. But after listening to Safe Havens make the connection to how this could persuade Jewish women to remain in unsafe situations, I realized that I had to do more to help ensure this didn’t happen in my faith.


For several years after that first introduction to Safe Havens I remained involved and supported the organization financially, until 2016 when Anne Marie invited me to join the Board of Advisors. I could not think of a more important organization to support with my time.


- Kay Larholt Silverman, ScD

Director of Integrated Knowledge Solutions, NEWDIGS at MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation


 

Over the past forty-five years, societal responses to intimate partner violence have grown stronger and more expansive. State and federal laws have been passed that provide safer options for those entering their survivorship while holding abusers accountable. An initial step that needs to be taken by anyone who is working with trauma victims is to secure that individual’s safety.


As a young prosecutor establishing a domestic violence prosecution unit on Cape Cod and the Islands, I realized that law enforcement, courts, victim advocacy organizations, and even sheltering programs could not do the work alone. It was then, over twenty years ago, that I was introduced to the critical work of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership in promoting and establishing safe options for victims and survivors in their faith communities. An important aspect of that work was the building of bridges between our faith communities and the other secular and governmental organizations set up to secure safety and foster the resilience of trauma victims and survivors.


When I retired from my legal career, as a prosecutor and as a judge handling cases of intimate partner violence, child abuse, and elder abuse, I was called to join the work of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership. I gladly serve on the Safe Havens Advisory Board to help build bridges that will keep all of us safe with our faith.


- Honorable J. Thomas Kirkman (Ret.)

First Justice, Edgartown District Court; Member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Barnstable County Bar Association, the Nam Vets of Hyannis of Massachusetts, the Cape Organization for the Rights of the Disabled, the Town of Falmouth's No Place for Hate Committee, Governing Board of the Upper Cape Chaplaincy