Helen’s story

When Helen* arrived at CFJ’s current safe house, she was terrified.

She was living in a room rented to her by a man whose father needed to be looked after, but after just a few weeks of moving in, things took a turn for the worse.

“He was not abusive immediately, but within three weeks it was a nightmare,” Helen said of the son. “He seemed like a really nice guy until I got there.


Living In Fear

Helen recalled that the son would abuse his father, so at first, she didn’t want to leave. “I took a couple months of abuse because I didn’t want to leave his dad,” she said.

The son would not allow Helen to go anywhere by herself, and one particular morning, accompanied her to a medical appointment.

“That morning, he had me up against his car with his arm,” Helen said. It was at that point she went back into the building and asked for help.



A Safe Haven

Helen was brought to The Center for Family Justice, which found her a place at its safe house.

Advocates helped her with paperwork, showed her around, and went over the rules.

She said the advocates at the house helped ease her fear.

“I was terrified, but as soon as I walked into that house, there was something about them that was calming,” Helen said. “I cry when I talk about it because they saved my life. I felt safe.”

What Helen said she appreciates is how staff would help her think through her next steps – such housing and applying for social security – without doing the work for her, but they were always there with a listening ear.

“Sometimes you don’t need anybody to fix anything for you. You just need them to listen,” Helen said.

Helen – who wants to be a recovery coach when she eventually heads back to Florida – said she would definitely recommend CFJ’s services if they find they are in an abusive situation they need to get out of.

“It’s a beautiful house. It gave me a kitchen to cook in; it gave me a beautiful room to sleep in, a bed,” Helen said. “It was more than I ever expected. They made me feel like I really mattered.”

Since the pandemic, we have been operating beyond full capacity, and we have responded to this increased demand with plans to open a bigger safehouse – Patti’s Place – in 2024.

*Name has been changed to protect client identity. 


CFJ Needs To Meet The Increased Demand

You Can Help!

Unfortunately, our existing Safe House is currently operating at 122% capacityhighlighting the urgent need for additional resources and support to ensure the safety and well-being of those seeking refuge.

In a typical year, our Safe House extends its support by providing nearly 5,000 bed-nights of shelter to adults and children escaping domestic violence. The demand continues to surge beyond our capacity, with cases only becoming more complex.


Here Comes Patti’s Place

Our Empower House project – recently renamed Patti’s Place – will offer up to a 60-day stay in highly secure and comfortable surroundings. And with 24/7, 365 days-a-year staffing, on-site counseling and other life rebuilding services.

While some donations have come in – thank you! – we still have a way to go to reach the $150,000 we still need to raise.

Please consider making a donation by clicking here

Your generous contribution will play a pivotal role in helping us meet the rising demand and continue our mission of providing a safe haven for those escaping domestic violence.