An interview with Susan Kidder, CEO
Safe Connections started from a single landline in 1978 and evolved into a multi-pronged program serving 20,000 people each year, they are dedicated to education, prevention, and treatment of domestic violence and sexual violence in Saint Louis. “Everyone deserves to be safe in their relationship,” says CEO Susan Kidder.
Programming at Safe Connections includes therapy and support groups, a 24 hour crisis help line (314-531-2003), and educational outreach to area schools and colleges. The education outreach program has the potential to “put us out of business” in a good way, says Kidder — by focusing on violence prevention education for youth, you can reduce the number of incidents down the line. And there is a strong need for this programming: 75% of youth report never being taught about what a healthy relationship looks like. Without the awareness of what abuse can look like, and strategies to prevent and deal with relationship violence, Saint Louis area youth are at a disadvantage. Through their education outreach programs, Safe Connections hopes to change that.
Educational Outreach Programs
A wide range of programs for all ages
Their educational programming can be brought to schools, youth groups, or other organizations, and covers topics ranging from Conflict and Communication, to Teen Dating Violence, to Challenging Male Gender Role Stereotypes. Involving men and male-indentified individuals is an important aspect of how Safe Connections hopes to achieve their mission. By teaching men about the negative stereotypes of masculinity, and ways to process emotions that are healthy rather than abusive. Men can be changemakers in preventing domestic and sexual violence in their communities.
From the beginning, all services provided by Safe Connections have been free of charge. “Part of domestic violence…is also financial, where the abuser exerts power and control by controlling the finances.” By ensuring counseling and programming is free, “[Safe Connections is] barrier-free. We don’t want a survivor to have to answer to their abuser as to [where] this money went.” So all of the therapy and support groups — essential services provided by Safe Connections– are absolutely free to clients. Even prior to Covid, Safe Connections was focused on launching a tele-health aspect of therapy. In the works is a text message line, so victims who might be stuck with their abusers in close quarters will have a silent way to communicate and receive support.
How can you help?
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Especially in the midst of the isolation and increased risk to victims due to Covid, it is important to educate your self and your community on what domestic violence looks like and ways you can help. The most high-impact ways of supporting their work include financial donations, to ensure these programs remain free and available to those who need them. But there are other ways to help, too. You can volunteer, or join the Young Professionals group!
And spreading awareness about Safe Connections and their free services could save someone’s life. So share this article, share the video interview with Safe Connections CEO Susan Kidder, and ensure those who need it find help.
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