Worthy Convos: SafeHaven’s Kathryn Jacob Talks Community
SafeHaven is exactly as the name implies. Tarrant County’s only state-designated family violence center, this comprehensive agency has provided services, resources, and shelter to victims of domestic violence since 1976. President and CEO Kathryn Jacob discusses the importance of being a community that listens and believes victims and acts against abuse.
The culture statement of your organization is SafeHaven creates community. Can you explain that statement?
Our culture statement really gets at the depth of SafeHaven. Victims often feel alone, abandoned, like the system isn’t there to support them, like they’re going against the grain. When a survivor walks into SafeHaven services, they experience their lived history in community with others who were, privately, in the same struggle. This sense of community extends beyond clientele to staff, donors, and other stakeholders. We are a hidden village in Tarrant County, but a village nonetheless – and that village is what lifts one another up to a place where lives can be lived free of domestic violence.
As your website points out, abuse is not limited to physical or emotional abuse but can involve finances and even technology. How does your team emphasize that those offenses are not any less serious than the other forms of abuse?
The root of domestic violence is power and control – it is one person’s power over another person and the use of that power to control a victim. This happens in a variety of ways, certainly not simply physical or sexual abuse. Controlling economics in a relationship is a part of intimate partner violence – controlling if the victim can earn her own money, if she has to rely on the offender for an ‘allowance’, if she is allowed to pay bills or not pay bills, if she can spend money how she chooses or not. All of that is based in power and control. The same is true for technology – does the victim have access to private text messaging, does she have privacy online (email, browsing history, etc.)? All of this is rooted in issues of power – situations where she has no power and he has it all.
What do victims of domestic violence want the community to know?
Victims want to know that the community is there to support them, in a nonjudgmental way, regardless of how they ‘handle’ their relationship with their offender. That is a high bar for any community. But this is what victims need most.
What do you want victims to know about SafeHaven?
We are here 24/7/365. You can call the hotline no matter where you are on your journey – and you do not need to end your relationship to access SafeHaven services. About 50% of the clients we serve are still in some form of a relationship with their abuser.
Do you have a favorite success story to share?
My personal favorite story is one of a young mother who came to us with her three kids at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. Her partner was furloughed from work, and the violence she experienced became worse and worse. After brutal attacks, she and her kids made their way to SafeHaven, and she was the first to admit that it was tough in the beginning. Another mom about her age was at [the] shelter at the same time, and they were able to find community with each other in such a trying time. The other mom convinced her to stay in shelter instead of going back home.
Fast forward a month or two and they both applied for school at Tarrant County College and were both accepted into their respective programs. She told me she was the first person in her family who would ever go to college. Today she’s in school and is part of our transitional housing program where we help her pay rent and continue counseling her while she saves and prepares for an independent future.
How can the community get involved?
Like all nonprofits, financial donations are vital in keeping our doors open for survivors. If you wish to make a financial donation, you can do so on our website at www.safehaventc.org.
We also send out a monthly “Immediate Needs” list. That list has everything we’re running low on in shelter, from shampoo/conditioner to bed sheets to cold and flu medication and more. If you’re interested in receiving those needs each month, you can reach out to Lindsay Edwards at email@example.com to be added to the email list.
Lastly, be a cheerleader for this work. Let survivors know you believe them. Domestic violence has become so engrained in our neighborhoods, and if we truly want to fulfill our mission of ending domestic violence, it will take our entire community standing together for this cause.
Although she prefers burnt orange to purple, Hannah Bush is happy to call Fort Worth her new home. She began freelance writing a few years ago to break up the monotony of her 9 to 5 and to prove to her parents that she’s making good use of her journalism degree. When she’s not hanging out with her cat, Hannah can likely be found on a patio with her brand new husband, talking about her cat.