SAAFE House welcomes new director

Joseph Brown/ The ItemShannon Lane recently took over the SAAFE House in Huntsville. The facility helps local domestic violence and sexual assault victims. 

SAAFE House, the local domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy agency, has a new leader.

But she’s no stranger to the area.

Shannon Lane, the agency’s executive director and Spring native, recently took over the agency which helps provide immediate assistance to domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. She succeeds Jolene Miller, who spent 30 years with the agency and is widely regarded as one of the leading advocates for ending sexual assault in East Texas.

“We are the 24-hour emergency hotline for domestic violence and sexual assault in the four county area of San Jacinto, Trinity, Polk and Walker counties,” Lane said about SAAFE House.

The agency works with sexual and domestic violence victims to secure a safety plan, offer counseling and on-site consultation when a victim enters the emergency room after an abuse. They also run a shelter for victims and a thrift store to give them necessities such as food, clothing and bedding.

One of Lane’s first long-term projects will be a capital gains campaign to provide a new shelter in Walker County. The current shelter was built in 1942 with the latest addition in the 1990s.

“The shelter in Polk County is in considerable better condition,” Lane added. “This shelter in Walker County is aged and in general disrepair. Due to the amount of service we provide to women in very dangerous home situations, getting that shelter is going to be key to continuing the amount of services we provide here in Walker County.”

Lane stated that the current shelter in Walker County has a capacity of only 24 people, including children.

“It doesn't take long for 24 to become a reality,” Lane added. “Especially here at the holidays we tend to see a spike in domestic violence incidents.

“Because of that low capacity some women are processed out a lot sooner than I would like them to be. “Ideally in some situations a longer term stay would be the better decision.”

The agency also helps victims with financial counselling that will help them get an apartment or new employment through the workforce center.

“Each client that comes through our door has a different service need, so it’s never a one-size-fits-all,” Lane added. “Some clients will come in with very drastic and urgent needs, while some will come in just needing reassurance that the decision to leave their batterer was the right one.

“We are kind of a one-stop-shop for all levels of client service needs.”

About Lane

Lane received her P.H.D. in sociology from South Dakota State, her master’s degree from the University of Houston and her undergraduate degree from Texas State. She returned to Huntsville in 2015 and worked for the recently closed Center for Rural Studies at Sam Houston State University.

About SAAFE House

The Sexual Assault and Abuse Free Environment is a 501c3 non-profit located at 1426 Sam Houston Ave. in Huntsville, which was established in 1984. They have a budget of $1.2 million a year, much of which comes from monthly donations and fundraisers. Their mission is to empower victims of family violence and sexual assault by providing individualized immediate, free and confidential services.