Women's Emergency Shelter was founded in 1978 by a group of concerned citizens who determined a need for a shelter for battered women in the Waterbury area. These founders had the foresight to know that in addition to shelter, a battered woman would need other supportive services to enable her to leave her violent home and gain financial and emotional independence from her abusive partner.
The Women's Emergency Shelter (W.E.S.) started out with a small three bedroom apartment. Two years later, in 1980, W.E.S. opened a 17-bed shelter. The shelter served as a temporary home for battered women and their children until 1991.
In 1986, with the enactment of the Family Violence Prevention and Response Act, W.E.S. saw a dramatic increase in the number of clients seeking non-shelter services. The Family Violence Victim Advocate Program made victims aware of the variety of services offered in addition to shelter.
The agency moved the shelter to a different location, which was better suited for families. The current shelter provides space for 15 women and children. In addition to shelter, the agency provides food, personal hygiene products and clothing to our residents.
Sexual Assault Crisis Services became part of W.E.S. adding crisis intervention, counseling, child advocacy, and outreach to the Hispanic community, a Male Violence Prevention program and extensive community education to its services.
The Connecticut Judicial Branch established a domestic violence docket in Waterbury Superior Court. The docket court aims to fight domestic violence by developing more effective sanctions for abusers. The Family Violence Victim Advocate program was then expanded to provide additional services to victims.
W.E.S. became Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury. The name change reflects the fact that that the agency supports all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, which includes children, teens and men as well as women. In addition, the name more accurately reflected the joining of the domestic violence and sexual assault programs.
Safe Haven opened a satellite office in Southbury, CT. This office serves victims in the suburban towns of Southbury, Woodbury and Middlebury who may be reluctant to seek services outside their community.
Safe Haven took over management of the Southbury Community Thrift Shop, now known as "The Safe Haven Thrift Shop". The shop is managed by Susan McNeil and staffed by over 60 dedicated volunteers. Proceeds from The Safe Haven Thrift Shop support the Safe Haven Southbury office. The Thrift Shop is located at 82-H Bennett Square, Southbury.