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A Safe Haven

by Ruth Ann Ruiz
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By Ruth Ann Ruiz

The Post Newspaper Features Editor

Anna has been working at Sarah’s House for about a year. She serves several roles but her most prominent is meal prep for the individuals who have found a refuge from domestic violence that drove them to seek shelter. 

Anna had a bit of a run-in once with an abusive partner, but her family provided the care and support she needed to bring her to a place of healing. 

“Just to know what kind of stuff they go through and to see them go through this alone encourages me to deliver the best meals I can for them,” shared Anna. 

Anna’s passion is caring for others, in her spare time she is a caregiver to her grandfather. She has held jobs as a caregiver and in food prep. This one is special to her because she is helping woman and children whose stories are tragic. 

Sarah’s House in Pasadena is a place where domestic violence victims can find physical safety along with the emotional support they need while recovering from an abusive environment. The property is a 50,000 square foot building that was once a nursing facility.

 Domestic violence numbers have gone up in the greater Houston area as well as across the nation. Texas listed 204 people who were killed by their intimate partners in 2021. Providing shelter space for individuals running from an abusive relationship is a growing need. 

Currently only a small portion of the building is used to provide shelter to domestic violence victims. “It would be at least a $4,000,000 investment to renovate more of the building to add services for more people,” shared Executive Director Bonnie Martin. 

The portion of the building that is being used was recently renovated to be able to care for up to 25 individuals. 

The shelter had been used as a homeless shelter. But through their years of service, they began to see a common denominator in the homeless who sought shelter. 

“A very high percentage of our homeless clients were victims of domestic violence. Transitioning Sarah’s House to a domestic violence shelter allows us to provide the specific needs for domestic violence,” said Martin. 

Victims of domestic violence require more than a warm meal and place to sleep. For example, they need to be safe. Their location for shelter is kept private to protect them. Should their location be compromised, the staff quickly locates another place that can shelter them. Providing for their client’s safety is a top priority. 

Domestic Violence victims need psychological help in overcoming the abuse and in growing towards a healthier sense of themselves. This is a service provided for the clients residing at the shelter.

Services provided at Sarah’s House

24-hour Hotline

Emergency Shelter

Crisis Intervention

Professional Therapy and Counseling

Case Management

Victim Advocacy

The people who seek shelter at Sarah’s House are first triaged via a phone call to the center. “We get filled with people and keep getting calls so we work to find other shelters where they can stay,” shared Tiffany, program manager at the shelter. 

Arriving at the shelter, many of the individuals are in a state of shock and fear. Then the staff begin their work with love and attention to bridging the individuals to safety and self-sufficiency.

“Working with a family from the moment they call on the hotline and seeing them all the way through treatment and care so that they can live a self-sufficient life is hands down the greatest reward,” shared Tiffany.

With the onset of the holiday season, statistics show that domestic violence often triples. This can mean a lot of burnouts for the staff serving the needs of those who come to them. 

“We have a very well-trained and caring staff here. I am very proud of them but even they can be overwhelmed at the holiday season. I tell my staff they cannot be in crisis because the people we serve are living in crisis, so I emphasize lots of self-care, team building and support,” shared Martin. 

Martin has been working with family violence since she started her career in social services. At one time she served as the forensic interviewer for children at a children’s advocacy center in Fort Bend County. 

Martin has seen and heard the worst of what people in domestic settings do to each other. The horrors of child abuse have been etched in her mind throughout her career. She once served as the executive director at Galveston’s Resource and Crisis Center. 

Though she herself came from a loving home, she has a huge heart for those who don’t. Armed with her passion to slow the tide of domestic violence, her years of on-the-job experience and a degree in psychology, Martin came onboard at Sarah’s House in 2020. 

If you need help for domestic violence, call the hotline at: (713) 475-1480.

If you are reading this and are outside of the region you can call the national domestic violence hotline at:  800-799-7233.

Sarah’s House is a non-profit and to reach the growing numbers of children and adults who are living with violence they need people who are willing to donate their resources including time, goods and financial. If you are interested in learning how you can help reach out at: 

contact@sarahshouse.org

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