A Safe Place is a grassroots social change organization incorporated over 34 years ago to prevent and eliminate domestic violence. Today we continue our commitment to provide free and confidential services to survivors of domestic abuse, their families and the community.
There have been many changes since our incorporation in 1978, but one things remains the same: our commitment to providing “an open door to safety” for survivors.
Originally founded as the Seacoast Task force on Family Violence, we were made up of women and men who began an effort to inform the community about domestic abuse and work to eliminate it. Working as a collective agency, members of the task force established positive relationships in the community including police, schools, hospitals, and medical providers.
We rented a four bedroom house on Islington Street in Portsmouth to use as a shelter for women and their children feeling domestic abuse. In the first 18 months of operations A Safe Place sheltered 181 women and 253 children.
In 1981 we grew to an organization of 5 staff and 35 volunteers. Then in 1988 we received a loan to purchase a permanent home however were denied special exemption to reside in a residential neighborhood. We appealed the decision however, the neighborhood residents joined together to claim that a shelter’s presence would lower property values, increase traffic and expose residents to increase violence. Even with over 50 studies presented at the hearing concluding that this was not the case in other communities with a shelter, the board of adjustments again denied special exemption.
Finally in 1989 after finding a new location, A Safe Place was granted an exemption and was able to purchase a permanent home for our shelter.
In 1994 we began to work with the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program and then in 1995 establish satellite offices in Rochester and Salem. By 1997 we had grown to a staff of 10 spread between 3 offices and our confidential shelter. We began to realize that operating as a collective was becoming more challenging as we were spread throughout Rockingham and Stafford Counties. We made the difficult decision to transition toward a more traditional model of management in 2000 and hired our first agency director to help with that process.
We were able to increase our shelter staff from 2 to 6 in 2001 and became the first shelter in the state of New Hampshire to provide 24 hour staff coverage.
In 2011 we opened an office one day per week in a brand new Family Justice Center in Strafford County.
Today we have 10 full time and 6 part time staff and 3 AVAP volunteers as well as volunteers and interns helping to break the cycle of domestic abuse and be signs of hope to survivors and their families. All of our services remain free & confidential 24 hours/365 days per year.
The mission of A Safe Place is to break the cycle of abuse by providing crisis intervention, support services, education and advocacy to survivors, their families and the community.
We are “Saving Lives-Creating Futures!”
We do this through the many different free and confidential services we offer including
- Safety Planning
24 Hour Hotline
Court and Social Service Advocacy
A Safe Place provides services to survivors of domestic abuse and stalking, regardless of gender, age, health status (including HIV-positive) physical, mental or emotional ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socioeconomic status, race, national origin, immigration status, religious and political affiliation.