The mission of Safe Voices is to provide person-to-person, individualized advocacy for all survivors of domestic abuse and violence, sex trafficking, and sexual exploitation in Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford Counties and engage our communities in social change to eliminate violence.
While advocating for and with survivors, we also endeavor to build safe communities in which everyone is free from abuse and exploitation.
As an agency, Safe Voices pursues our work to end domestic abuse and violence, sex trafficking, and sexual exploitation, with core principles. These include:
- Our centering of survivors in their own stories and our commitment to helping them pursue their desired outcomes
- Our belief and commitment to nonviolence
- Our demand that those who choose to cause harm accept accountability and responsibility and actively pursue change
- Our commitment to support our staff with professional development, emotional wellness, and compensation at the highest possible levels
- Our pursuit of equity and inclusion through education, examining and updating our practices, and honest exploration of biases we hold or have held, and the harm those biases have caused
- Our commitment to harm reduction and harm repair in our practices as communicators and service providers.
Safe Voices was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1977. At that time, our community struggled with addressing the needs of battered women and children who did not have refuge. Low-income housing wasn’t available, there were no federal or state monies for domestic violence education or victim support programs, and no laws to protect survivors. Our organization began as a project to meet a critical need for emergency shelter for abused women and their children. Local women from social service agencies in Androscoggin County attended a conference in Massachusetts to learn about that state’s efforts to help battered women. From there, Pearl Residential Facility and Safe Voices (known then as the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project) were born.
In 1979, the agency opened the first emergency shelter with three staff members. Over the years, the shelter moved many times, even once being lost to a fire. Currently, Safe Voices is the sole provider of support services and shelter operator for survivors of domestic abuse and violence, sex trafficking, and sexual exploitation in Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford Counties.
In 2010, the organization’s name was changed to Safe Voices to recognize that domestic abuse, sex trafficking, and sexual exploitation do not only affect women. This change was meant to reflect hope and empowerment for all survivors, no matter their gender identity. The new name resonated with those we serve, with one survivor in our support group stating, “We had no voice. Now it is safe to have a voice.”
Since 1977, our goals of providing emergency and support services to victims of domestic abuse have expanded to include services for survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, efforts to promote ways to foster healthy relationships, educate the community about the seriousness and prevalence of abuse, and work toward legislative and cultural change so that communities no longer tolerate abuse and violence have guided us in developing a strong safety net for survivors seeking support, assistance, and a life free from the threat of further violence and abuse. In addition to providing emergency shelter, Safe Voices has a network of local community-based offices in each county we serve. These local offices provide one-on-one support, support groups, family services, advocacy, information and referrals, court advocacy, transportation and accommodation for shelter, community and youth education, and professional trainings.