Mission & Organizational History
Friends of Abused Families empowers and provides safety to those affected by domestic and sexual violence through support services and prevention education in Washington County. Friends of Abused Families provides those it serves with the means to live a violence free future.
Friends of Abused Families, Inc. (FRIENDS) originally named Friends for Battered Women is the sole provider of shelter and support services for individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault in Washington County. FRIENDS programming began in 1978 with a 24-hour crisis line and volunteers who provided short-term shelter for women and children in crisis.
In 1986, the organization changed its name to Friends of Abused Families and began operating a 24 Hour Emergency Shelter for women and children. In addition, the legal advocacy program was implemented to assist victims in drafting temporary restraining orders for protection from their abuser.
In 1988, FRIENDS purchased the current shelter and support services facility. Originally, the space housed up to 12 individuals. Renovations have continued throughout subsequent years and currently there is a total of 18 available beds.
In 1994, FRIENDS expanded its legal advocacy program and began the Transitional Housing Program.
Program evaluation and feedback from clients led to the hiring of an attorney to provide direct representation for victims at restraining order injunction hearings.
The Transitional Housing Program was started with a grant from the State of Wisconsin Department of Housing and continues today with support from the State of Wisconsin Department of Commerce. There are currently three units available to women and children.
In 1996, FRIENDS began offering support services to victims of sexual assault/abuse. Program elements include one-to-one counseling, support groups, medical and legal advocacy, and prevention education.
In 2004, FRIENDS completed a major renovation to the shelter facility making it completely accessible to individuals with disabilities. Additional office space was created on the upper level to allow for larger living space in the shelter’s communal areas.
In 2006, FRIENDS expanded its children’s program to include a Children’s Advocate in addition to the Art Therapist. New program elements include one-to-one and group counseling sessions with the children as well as parenting and family unit activities. The focus of the enhanced program is to strengthen and re-build trust and communication within the family unit as they work towards a violence-free future.
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