Albuquerque nonprofit honors 45 years of assisting domestic violence victims

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – This year, a local nonprofit is looking to expand its operations as it honors 45 years of providing relief for domestic violence victims.

The S.A.F.E. House was incorporated in 1976 and has since become an inclusive hub providing resources for any domestic violence victims.

"You can use this just for shelter or you can work hard and get housing or get a job," Kristin Kinzer, of S.A.F.E. House, said. "Everybody’s different. We know that IPPV – intimate partner domestic violence – does not discriminate, so we meet people where they are."

At 85 beds, the home is New Mexico’s largest and the U.S.’s third-largest shelter for domestic violence victims.

"We offer wraparound services when you’re here so you get three meals a day and we do case management therapy," Kinzer said. "We work with you on pretty much everything while you’re here."

Last year was a challenging year for the nonprofit, especially at the height of the pandemic. When everyone was encouraged to stay home, home became the most dangerous place for many people to be, which meant it became harder for victims to get connected to the shelter.

"When the lockdown first happened, the phone lines just declined and capacity declined and it was because people couldn’t find a safe place to call us," Kinzer said.

Even in regular times, leaving an abuser is not easy. According to Kinzer, a person tries to leave an average of seven times before they are successful in leaving abuse. The abuse, however, is not just physical.

"There is religious, financial, psychological, emotional abuse," Kinzer stated. "There are all types of violence and we will help anybody with any of those forms of domestic violence."

The S.A.F.E. House was originally known as the Women’s Community Association but they also offer services to men. Nationwide, 835,000 men are victims of domestic violence each year.

One-in-four women will also experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. According to S.A.F.E. House, children are also present at 1-in-3 domestic violence incidents in New Mexico

"At any given time, 50% of the people in our shelter can be children," Kinzer said.

S.A.F.E. House is trying to raise $10,000 by the end of October to help fund their services. The house is also working on expanding from eight cottages to 16, with upgrades for all cottages, to help more families and give them more privacy so they have room to heal. However, the project is going to cost more than $2 million which is where, they say, fundraising is important.

S.A.F.E. House also has around 10 open positions they are looking to fill. For more information about the shelter, visit the S.A.F.E. House website.