Haven House works to make community safer place for all

  • Wednesday, October 30, 2013 4:02pm
  • News

Before we turn a page on the calendar, let’s take a moment to remember October as Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness Month — a month “devoted to honoring those we’ve lost and those who’ve survived,” said Jessica Lawmaster, executive director of South Peninsula Haven House. She and other Haven House staff spoke this week at several “lunch and learn” meetings informing people about Haven House programs.

As anyone who reads the Cops and Courts section of the Homer News knows, hardly a week goes by without a report of domestic assault. While man-on-woman partner violence is most common, there also are reports of woman-on-man violence and same-sex assault. An incident at an East End Road teen-age drinking party last year shattered some stereotypical images of sexual assault.

The good news is that for more than 30 years, Homer hasn’t tried to hide from its problems of domestic violence and sexual assault. Starting with a group of women who created a network of safe homes for victims, that pioneer organization, South Peninsula Women’s Services, has grown into South Peninsula Haven House. Lawmaster said the heart and soul of Haven House’s work remains the shelter, now a 10-bed facility for women and children.

Haven House changed its name to reflect that while its shelter serves mainly women, the program finds refuge for anyone from domestic violence and sexual assault. Advocates provide counseling and support for women, children and men. They even hold 36-week long domestic violence intervention programs for men and women ordered by the court and the Office of Children’s Services, with the goal of holding batterers accountable and breaking the cycle of violence.

Haven House’s other programs include:

• Weekly support groups for victims;

• A confidential, 24-hour crisis line staffed by Haven House advocates to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault;

• A legal advocacy program and legal hotline to help people file restraining orders or get advice from attorneys on divorce, dissolution of marriage and child support issues;

• Advocates to accompany children and adults in court as a case moves through the system;

• The Sexual Assault Response Team made up of advocates, cops and troopers, and nurses trained to do health and forensic exams;

• The Child Advocacy Center, a safe, nonthreatening facility at Haven House where child victims of abuse can be interviewed by trained professionals and counselors using protocols that are culturally and age appropriate while avoiding leading questions;

• Job and life counseling to help domestic violence victims start careers so they can live independently of their abusers;   

• Housing placement and financial assistance for rent and security deposits or home repairs that might bankrupt a homeowner;

• A partnership with the Homer Prevention Project to address underage and adult binge drinking;

• The Photo Voice Project, where teenagers use photography to explore topics like why teens drink; 

• Homer Thrift, a donation-supported used clothing and household goods store that employs shelter residents, teaching them job skills, and provides low-cost items to the community;

• Girls on the Run, a program to inspire young girls through physical activity; and

• Green Dot, a program to give the community skills in turning “red dots” — incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault — into “green dots,” where violence is averted.

Many of these programs Haven House runs with financial and material support from other good organizations. Through Gov. Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect campaign, Alaskans have focused attention on domestic violence and sexual assault. That’s a campaign Homer can be proud of working on long ago. 

Through programs that Haven House and other groups have started, we may not see the end of domestic violence and sexual assault completely, but our community can make a concerted effort to say “Not in our town,” and make the problems a historic anachronism like the bubonic plague and smallpox.

More in News

Coast Guardsmen and state employees load the Together Tree bound for the Alaska Governor’s Mansion on a truck on Nov. 29, 2021 after the Coast Guard Cutter Elderberry transported the tree from Wrangell. (USCG photo / Petty Officer 2nd Class Lexie Preston)
Governor’s mansion tree arrives in Juneau

No weather or floating lines could stay these Coast Guardsmen about their task.

The Kenai Community Library health section is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. The Kenai City Council voted during its Oct. 20 meeting to postpone the legislation approving grant funds after members of the community raised concerns about what books would be purchased with the money, as well as the agency awarding the grant. The council will reconsider the legislation on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council to consider library grant again

The council earlier voted to postpone the legislation after concerns were raised about what books would be purchased.

EPA logo
Alaska Native group to receive EPA funds for clean water projects

The agency is handing out $4.3 million to participating tribal organizations nationwide.

Study: PFD increases spending on kids among low-income families

New study looks at PFD spending by parents

Image via the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Nikiski soil treatment facility moves ahead

The facility, located at 52520 Kenai Spur Highway, has drawn ire from community residents.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Bycatch becomes hot issue

Dunleavy forms bycatch task force.

Rep. Chris Kurka, R-Wasilla, leaves the chambers of the Alaska House of Representatives on Friday, March 19, 2021, after an hour of delays concerning the wording on his mask. On Monday, Kurka announced he was running for governor in 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Wasilla rep announces gubernatorial bid

Kurka said he was motivated to run by a sense of betrayal from Dunleavy.

The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson star is Illuminated on the side of Mount Gordon Lyon on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, just east of Anchorage, Alaska, in observation of the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. A crew from the base went to light the 300-foot wide holiday star, but found that only half of the star’s 350 or so lights were working, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Airmen from the 773rd Civil Engineer Squadron Electrical Shop haven’t been able to figure out what was wrong and repair the lights, but they plan to work through the week, if necessary, base spokesperson Erin Eaton said. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
Avalanche delays holiday tradition in Alaska’s largest city

ANCHORAGE — A holiday tradition in Alaska’s largest city for more than… Continue reading

AP Photo/Gregory Bull,File
In this Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, photo, George Chakuchin, left, and Mick Chakuchin look out over the Bering Sea near Toksook Bay, Alaska. A federal grant will allow an extensive trail system to connect all four communities on Nelson Island, just off Alaska’s western coast. The $12 million grant will pay to take the trail the last link, from Toksook Bay, which received the federal money, to the community of Mertarvik, the new site for the village of Newtok. The village is moving because of erosion.
Federal grant will connect all 4 Nelson Island communities

BETHEL — A federal grant will allow an extensive trail system to… Continue reading

Most Read