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SafeHouse Denver's History

SafeHouse Denver was born out of the community’s desperate need for an emergency shelter for women and children living with domestic violence. Community professionals were working with large numbers of women on a variety of issues, and found that the underlying problem was actually domestic violence. However, there was no safe place for these women to go to escape the violence in their own homes. There was also no language with which to truly articulate their experiences.


The agency was established in 1977. Our first shelter opened in 1978. SafeHouse moved to our current shelter in 1989, doubling the bed capacity.

A capital campaign enabled SafeHouse to retire the shelter mortgage in 1991.

Recognizing that shelters solve only a small part of the problem, SafeHouse Denver expanded its community support program in 1985 by providing counseling services to women, children and youth who live in the community. Over 1,100 women and children were served during the first year of our Outreach Program’s operation

SafeHouse opened our Counseling Center in 1993, furthering our ability to provide non-residential counseling and support services to abused women and their children.

In 1994, SafeHouse for Battered Women changed its name to SafeHouse Denver.

In 2000, SafeHouse Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver collaborate to start the Women’s Entrepreneurial Training Program. This program taught women skills to start their own businesses, not only helping to build practical job training but also building invaluable self-confidence for program participants.

SafeHouse Denver opens new Counseling Center offices at 1649 Downing Street.

SafeHouse has provided women and children with more than 168,000 nights of shelter since 1988.

The Importance of SafeHouse Denver

SafeHouse Denver was one of the first battered women’s shelters in the nation and played an essential role in the community’s efforts to build systemic support for victims of domestic violence. This is a role SafeHouse continues to play today.

The first step was to bring the issue into public consciousness. In doing so, society has come to acknowledge the problem’s existence and to develop the language, dialogue and services with which to address it. Although we are sometimes frustrated that greater progress has not been made, it is important to remember that as recently as 1964, courts in the United States were still ruling that states should not interfere in cases of domestic “chastisement” but should leave the parties to themselves to make up.

SafeHouse Denver is the only agency in Denver providing both emergency shelter and an array of services exclusively serving women, children and youth who are victims of domestic violence. We target our programs to meet community need and as a result have made it mandatory that certain staff are bilingual in direct response to the 200-plus monolingual Spanish-speaking women and children who access our services each year.

Despite the growth in our programs, there continues to be unmet need in terms of the provision of services to victims of domestic violence. Our shelter refers, on average, more than 1,100 clients elsewhere annually, because our beds are full. We know that there is a shortage of services for Spanish speaking clients. Demand is also high for children’s services, making referrals for longer term therapy difficult. Affordable child care, mental health services and affordable housing continue to be barriers to our clients’ capacity to move forward to self-sufficiency in a timely manner.

Our goals include providing a broad spectrum of quality services to women and children who have been impacted by domestic violence; building awareness that there are options available to victims of domestic violence and that SafeHouse Denver can provide those options; and increasing community awareness of domestic violence and community accountability for the intervention in and prevention of domestic abuse.