The Most Dangerous Time


Leaving is impossible if you have no place to go

By Pat Davenport

Pat Davenport, a member of the Steering Committee of Chicago Says No More, is the Executive Director of A Safe Place in Zion, Illinois.

When people ask why a victim of domestic violence stays with an abuser, frequently those asking the question fail to recognize the most basic human need—the need for shelter. The biggest barrier to victims leaving their abusers is often they have nowhere to go.

At A Safe Place, our primary mission is to remove barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. And, to that end, A Safe Place provides a comprehensive housing program for victims of domestic violence. In the first phase of the program, survivors fleeing their homes due to immediate danger are placed in an emergency shelter similar to a communal living situation where, with their children, they can achieve a sense of stability and develop basic life skills as needed.

Each year, we help more than 250 residents in Illinois’ Lake County area by providing emergency shelter, but at any given time 50 people are on our waiting list per bedroom size.

In addition to assisting survivors and their children in crisis, we also help those who have completed our residential program or clients from the community not in need of emergency shelter by helping them move to independent living settings. In doing that, we are mindful that secure housing is critical to minimize the risk of a victim returning to an abuser. This approach has shown tremendous success, and as a result, 92 percent of a Safe Place’s clients have not returned to their abuser by their six-month follow-up visit.

Recently, A Safe Place received a $300,000 grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) to support scattered-site housing for survivors. These funds make it possible for survivors to establish a new home, and A Safe Place works to place survivors with vetted landlords. Survivors enrolled in this program are provided with financial assistance for housing and rent deposits. In some cases, survivors may find their own landlord, who we then evaluate and approve. For others, A Safe Place contacts the building’s owner to make arrangements for them.

In this new, safe, independent housing program, our counselors work closely with clients to define and plan their educational, financial, and job-related goals. Currently we have identified 45 survivors at A Safe Place who will be going into scattered site housing funded by this program, and have one client already moving into an apartment.

It is important for victims to know that we can help them, that a safety net and a safe shelter are ready for them when they decide to leave.

While we assist survivors and their children in crisis, we also help those who have completed our residential program move to independent living settings, mindful that secure housing is critical to minimize the risk of a victim returning to an abuser.

Recently, A Safe Place received a $300,000 grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) to support scattered-site housing for survivors. These funds make it possible for survivors to establish a new home. In partnership with Lake County Affordable Housing, A Safe Place works to place survivors with vetted landlords. Survivors enrolled in this program are provided with financial assistance for housing and rent deposits. In some cases, survivors may find a landlord which we then evaluate and approve. For others, A Safe Place contacts the building’s owner to make arrangements for our clients.

For this new safe independent housing program, our counselors work closely with clients as they define and plan their educational, financial and job-related goals. We identified 45 residents at A Safe Place who will be going into scattered site housing funded by this program, and already have a client moving into an apartment.

Victims must know we can help them, that a safety net and a safe shelter is ready for them when they decide to leave.


Lend your voice to say NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault by signing the pledge at ChicagoSaysNoMore.org.



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