Fleeing family or teen dating violence? Here’s A Safe Place for you

The new Teen Program kicks off Feb. 25 with The Teen Healing Summit

by Mackenzie McNabb

A Safe Place founder Carolyn Russell poses with a panelist at their Third Annual Teen Summit at Mosswood Park in Oakland on Feb. 19, 2014.

A Safe Place is Oakland’s oldest domestic violence agency and Oakland’s only shelter for those who are suffering from intimate partner violence. One in four women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner within their lifetimes.

The mission at A Safe Place is to end domestic violence by providing battered victims and their children with a safe shelter and resources to break the cycle through outreach and education.

We collect our success stories in order to inspire others and will share one with you all now. A 19-year-old African American woman with a 10-month-old son sought services at our shelter as a result of fleeing domestic violence with only the clothes on her back.

During her stay at A Safe Place, she was able to apply for and obtain CalWorks assistance. Through her participation in the CalWorks program offered by A Safe Place, she prepared for obtaining a job by working with our CalWorks counselor who provided life skills sessions on resume writing, preparing a cover letter, dressing for success, mock interviews, time management, budgeting and decision making.

Rev. Dr. Harold Mayberry, pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oakland, incorporates the topic of domestic violence into his sermons. “Rather than having families suffer in silence, I would hope we could all create a faith community where churchgoers feel comfortable sharing the seriousness of their situation,” Mayberry says. “And in turn, the church could provide a place of safety, support, guidance and resources.”

As a result, she obtained full time employment, quality child care for her son and, upon leaving the shelter, moved into transitional housing. As she was left the shelter, she expressed her appreciation for the help she received from A Safe Place that made her feel stronger and more self-confident.

We made the holidays for her and her son ones that she will never forget, this young mother told us. Though she entered the shelter with only the clothes on her back, she left with two suitcases of clothing and gifts for her and her son.

We hope to keep the community informed of all of our services in order to help as many people as we can. Along with our shelter, we provide counseling and support group services, all free of charge.

We provide a nationally-certified domestic violence training program to become an advocate in biannual sessions, which one can sign up for by filling out a volunteer application on our website at asafeplacedvs.org. These trainings help educate the public.

We also have a burgeoning Teen Program in which we hope to provide education and preventative services to youth about teen dating violence and family violence. The Teen Program is kicking off with an event called The Teen Healing Summit that will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25, 1-5 p.m., because February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

The event will be at Defremery Park in West Oakland, at 1651 Adeline St. It’s free and will include mural workshops, spoken word, slam poetry workshops, food, a dj and games. We hope the youth of Oakland can find a space to become advocates themselves with A Safe Place.

The Teen Program is kicking off with an event called The Teen Healing Summit that will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25, 1-5 p.m., at Defremery Park in West Oakland, at 1651 Adeline St.

In addition, we have a 24-hour crisis line; the number is 510-536-7233. If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship with a partner, hopefully we can be of service.

Mackenzie McNabb is teen outreach coordinator for A Safe Place, P.O. Box 23006, Oakland, CA  94623-0006, 510-986-8600. She can be reached at aspyouth@pacbell.net.