Client In the News:

HAVEN’s annual fundraising event returns in-person

Domestic violence, sexual assault numbers increase during pandemic

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated numerous aspects of our society, including how stress and isolation can have detrimental factors on relationships.

The nonprofit HAVEN of Oakland County says it’s the only organization to provide comprehensive support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, with services ranging from prevention, an emergency crisis line, counseling, advocacy, assault exams, and emergency shelter for individuals fleeing violent situations.

HAVEN, located at 801 Vanguard Drive in Pontiac, serves about 30,000 individuals per year across southeast Michigan, with the majority of people from Oakland County.

Last year, the organization celebrated its 45th anniversary.

“What we have found more concerning than that is, we have seen an increase in the intensity of violence,” said Aimee Nimeh, president and CEO of HAVEN. “Throughout the pandemic, there have been times where we have seen more survivors come forward; times when we were in extreme lockdown where we saw less.

“We don’t believe that’s because it wasn’t happening. It’s because it was so difficult to reach out to get help because people were so isolated, especially at the beginning of the pandemic.”

For context, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, said that as state restrictions were eased in May and June of 2020, a total of 60,437 people received help from the organization. That was up 18% from the same period in 2019, and the highest number in RAINN’s 26-year history.

Nimeh said HAVEN witnessed more severe injuries, more strangulation, and more brutal sexual violence. Reasons for increases cited high stress; an increase in overall intensity due to people being stuck in spaces with abusive partners; and a lack of reaching out for help due to the virus and victims not able to seek refuge from friends or family members.

“When you kind of combine that having less options, with the fact that there was an added layer of stress, of desperation, and of people being in the house together — it just sort of seemed like those factors added to the increase,” Nimeh said.

HAVEN serves women, men and children. While such crimes disproportionately affect women, men are also treated by the organization as survivors.

Children, many of whom witness domestic violence or sexual abuse in households, receive help like exams and counseling.

The 24-hour crisis line number is (248) 334-1274.

Annual fundraiser returns

HAVEN’s annual Resilience Gala will return in-person this year on Aug. 19. Taking place at Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club in Clarkston, the event will include a seated dinner, silent and live auctions, live music and entertainment, as well as different speakers.

The event has brought in as much as $300,000 in the past. Nimeh said that half of HAVEN’s funding comes from public and private donations, while event money raised goes towards shelter and community and prevention services.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. The cost is $1,600 for VIP tables for eight guests, which includes a VIP reception. Tables for six guests are $1,200 and include a cocktail hour.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://one.bidpal.net/havenresiliencegala

or call (248) 322-3705. For sponsorship information, email jvalentine@haven-oakland.org.