Jackie Mazeikas kept seeing victims of domestic violence go back to abusive situations. As a domestic violence and sexual assault health educator at SEARHC, she worked with countless people whose choice to leave abuse was made more difficult because there was no local shelter.
Mazeikas and her husband, Stan, worked independently for years to open a faith-based safe house in Haines. In July, that goal was realized. They signed a one-year lease on a safe house, which they call Becky’s Place.
Becky’s Place is named for Mazeikas’ sister, who she lost to domestic violence.
The new safe house is a two-bedroom rental that Mazeikas says has turned out ‘really homey.’
“Our ultimate goal is to buy a home, but we realized that that was still so far down the road, that the short-term goal was to rent.”
The first week they opened the safe house, they helped a women in need, Mazeikas said. So far this year, Becky’s Place has assisted 18 women and children. They helped 22 people last year, and she thinks they’ll surpass that number as more people become aware that a safe house is available in Haines.
Before, the closest shelter for abuse victims was in Juneau.
“Many of the women I dealt with, because they didn’t want to uproot their children, pull them out of school or take them away from their grandparents, or what small amount of security they had, they didn’t want to go to Juneau or another city — they would go back to the abuse.”
Mazeikas says leaving an abuser is a ‘life-changing decision,’ and not having a safe house locally presented another challenge to those who were thinking about leaving abusive situations.
“Our whole goal is to be a voice and to let women know that they have a choice and they don’t have to stay,” she said. “And we will partner with them and walk with them through it. Really they can come in and feel safe, cry their heart out and work their way through it, just to have the quiet time to regroup and feel safe and know they don’t have to return to the yelling, the physical abuse, the control, the power that’s over them. It’s no longer there when they’re at Becky’s Place.”
Mazeikas says reaching the goal of opening a safe house has been emotional for her, because it’s been such a long and personal journey.
Now that Becky’s Place has a physical safe house, Mazeikas says it will qualify them for more grant funding. They recently recieved a $5,000 grant from the Alaska Community Foundation.
“It shows the validity of us, it shows our consistency, the number of people we help is really important. It just validates what we’re doing.”
She says Becky’s Place wouldn’t be where it is without community support, including countless bake sales and other fundraisers.
“It’s one life at a time, I know we can’t change the world but we can change our world and our area that we’re in.”