“Love Shouldn’t Hurt” is the tag-line for a non-profit organization in Sparks dedicated to preventing domestic violence.
For 16 years, Safe Embrace has been one of a handful of organizations in Northern Nevada whose mission is to help end the cycle of abuse and prevent domestic violence in the Silver State.
Raising awareness of the epidemic levels of domestic violence and sexual assault in Nevada has not been an easy task for the organization. Nevada has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest number of domestic violence cases reported each year. This statistic has not moved for the last 15 years, said Vanessa Monroe, program director at Safe Embrace.
But Safe Embrace chooses to look at it one family at a time.
“We help them (victims) with housing, employment, job skills that they’re in need of,” Monroe said. “Most survivors stay at least 60 days, but they are welcome to stay up to 90 days. Those who stay the full 90 days usually move into the transitional housing program.”
Monroe, who has worked with Safe Embrace for five years, said the organization began in 1994 when founder Debbie Armstrong continued to see a community need for domestic violence prevention and support.
Armstrong collaborated with the community to coordinate support groups for survivors at Greater Light Christian Center. Armstrong also started empowerment workshops for women in the Washoe County Jail, Monroe said.
Providing information on how to build healthy relationships, work through financial barriers and become independent, Monroe said Armstrong hoped these tools would enable domestic violence survivors to break free from abuse.
Safe Embrace gained non-profit status in 1999, and in 2001, an emergency residential program opened with 10 beds. Since 2001, the emergency residential program has grown, but more resources are need, Monroe said.
Monroe said anyone in the community can utilize their 24-hour crisis hotline.
Currently, Safe Embrace has 15 emergency residential beds. Individuals can access help and support for up to 90 days, Monroe said and survivors are welcomed to bring their pets too. With 17 residents and three dogs in the emergency residential program today, Monroe said, 22 people are still on a waiting list.
Monroe said when survivors come to live in the home, they’re assigned an advocate for the duration of their stay and can utilize a variety of support tools, including counseling and therapy at no cost to them.
The transitional housing program is available to survivors who complete 90 days in the emergency residential program. The transitional housing program often helps survivors with items such as rental assistance, childcare, transportation and more in-depth case management support for up to nine additional months.
In 2013, Safe Embrace provided safe emergency housing to 87 women and 103 children for periods ranging from a few weeks to 90 days. Last year, almost 100 people utilized the emergency residential program. While numbers change from week to week, Monroe said, over the last 15 years, the organization has provided emergency shelter and support to well over 2,000 women and children.
Monroe said the non-profit organization is always in need of perishable goods. The organization’s website has a “wish list” of needed items from basic food, clothing, personal care, baby and household supplies that they provide for their emergency residential program.
“These (survivors in the residential program) are typically moms with children and school has started,” Monroe said. “The holidays are coming up, and sometimes people like to adopt families.”
Monroe said anyone interested in adopting a family over the holidays, providing perishable goods or donations to help expand the residential facilities should contact their administrative offices located at 780 E. Lincoln Way in Sparks.
In addition, Safe Embrace takes donation for items that will help survivors in the transitional residential program – such as appliances or household items in setting up a new residence.
While some of the most common survivors are undocumented women, Monroe said there are a growing number of reported cases of teen dating violence and domestic violence within the LGBTQ community.
Monroe said Safe Embrace is looking to hire a full-time coordinator to reach these demographics.
Victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact Safe Embrace at 775-322-3466 or the toll free hotline at 877-781-0565.