A Safe Place: Creating Kindness After Domestic Violence

September 06, 2017

Mallory-Lennon Simmermon, 24, was born and raised in Chicago but currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn. She is the front-woman of the Chicago-based folk fusion band, Mallory Lennon and the Sykadelix. Mallory graduated from Loyola University Chicago, where she attained her BA in English Literature and Jazz Studies. Her interests include artistic evolution, creative integrity, and educating students of all socioeconomic upbringings to use music and art as a means of communicating. When she isn’t traveling for music, Mallory enjoys volunteering with the Music Therapy program for victims of PTSD at the Lake County VA, reading any David Foster Wallace books she can get her hands on, and listening to the Grateful Dead.

The dialogue on domestic violence is never an easy one. Given that every day more than three women in the United States are murdered by their partners, it is not difficult to understand why the topic of domestic violence is shrouded by images that are anything but kind. However, as a Channel Kindness Reporter, I have learned to seek out kindness even in the darkest of places. After discovering A Safe Place Lake County, an organization that has been transforming lives after domestic violence for almost 39 years, I found that kindness is possible even after one has been a victim or witness of domestic violence.

A Safe Place Lake County was founded on providing a “continuum of care” to those affected by domestic violence. What does this mean to victims and witnesses who come into contact with A Safe Place? This ensures that victims receive comprehensive services for not only themselves but also for their children. A Safe Place is devoted to helping prevent future abuse by addressing root causes through abuse intervention programs and providing education and prevention programs throughout the Lake County area. I was lucky enough to sit down with C.E.O and Executive Director Pat Davenport, Art Therapist Kelly Burns, and Chief Development Officer Carmen Patlan to more thoroughly discuss the ways in which A Safe Place Lake County is tirelessly working to create kindness in the community.

In your opinion, how has A Safe Place created kindness in the community?

Kelly Burns, Art Therapist: “There are so many ways [in which] A Safe Place has created kindness in the community. Our outreach staff is always out in the community, providing information and training about domestic violence. We also have created kindness in our community by providing free counseling services. My clients receive art therapy free of charge so that anyone can receive services despite their circumstance.”

Carmen Patlan, Chief Development Officer: “Many people find it very difficult to understand why victims don’t just leave. Through the education and awareness of domestic violence throughout the community, we have helped others see domestic violence victims in a more kind, compassionate, and less judgmental light.”

Pat Davenport, CEO: “The work of A Safe Place is all about kindness and our work is combating and ending violence because violence breeds violence. The way to end violence is through kindness.”

Do you think that individuals who utilize A Safe Place become kinder for it?

Carmen Patlan: “For the first time, many of the victims find that they have a voice. I have witnessed many paying it forward and being kind to each other. For example, here at our Zion campus, I witnessed the victims helping each other with transportation, child care, and their sharing of knowledge and resources.”

Kelly Burns: “Being kind to others is a cornerstone in how we approach our work. Clients can see that there is good in the world and that someone does truly care about them, so they are able to return that kindness to others.”

Pat Davenport: “Absolutely! What we often see is that victims who recover want to give back. They want to help others, and they do it in both small and big ways. Children help one another with homework; victims go out and speak about their experience to help others, and so much more.”

How has working with A Safe Place created kindness in your own life?

Kelly Burns: “A Safe Place has really deepened my understanding of how even a small gesture of kindness can have a big impact. By just providing a space for children and adolescents to express themselves freely is so transformative and healing. It also has made me even more aware of how you never know what another person is going through, and a small gesture of kindness can mean the world.”

Pat Davenport: “Kindness is around me every day through the work that we do, and is the haven of the abuse and violence. It is thanks to kindness that I am able to do the work we do.”

While constantly striving to completely end domestic violence, A Safe Place has already made incredible strides in the Chicagoland area over the past 38 years. They have given legal advocacy to over 2,300 clients and have issued over 3,000 orders of protection. When asked about the importance of A Safe Place’s existence in the community, Kelly Burns, Art Therapist, said, “If you look at the statistics on domestic violence, A Safe Place needs to exist. One in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. A lot of the children and adolescents I see do not have access to services, especially art therapy, so without A Safe Place these kids will suffer from the effects of domestic violence, which can be lifelong.”

It is no question that the Lake County area is kinder due to the work of A Safe Place. For more information and education on the work that A Safe Place is doing, please visit www.asafeplaceforhelp.org