AVDA has been a safe haven for thousands of victims of domestic abuse. Adults and children are provided 24-hour, 7 days a week emergency shelter, crisis counseling, food, clothing, individual and group counseling services.
In 1984, a group of Palm Beach County residents formed a coalition for the purpose of creating a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.
In 1985, the group organized as a nonprofit corporation in Florida and agreed upon the name, Aid to Victims of Domestic Assault (AVDA). AVDA raised $250,000 to match a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The funds were used to purchase and renovate a two-story, stucco former residential home that was built in 1953 to serve as the shelter. Equipment and furnishings were obtained from businesses and individuals in the community. AVDA's first clients were served on February 17, 1986.
In 1998, AVDA changed its corporate name from Aid to Victims of Domestic Assault, Inc. to Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, Inc. to better reflect the nature of the services provided by the organization. Over the years, AVDA has grown to meet the need to shelter, support, serve, and educate survivors and their children. Our programs have evolved from its early intervention shelter services to include prevention and educational outreach services.
In 2005, AVDA expanded its emergency shelter capacity and opened the doors to a new transitional living facility. The Casa Vegso Transitional Living Facility added a new dimension to AVDA's services by providing housing for domestic violence survivors for up to two years. In the transitional living program, survivors can move from homelessness to independent living while receiving counseling, life skills, training, and encouragement.
In 2006, AVDA added a Health & Wellness Initiative for residents in AVDA’s emergency shelter and transitional housing. This program was expanded in 2013 to include onsite yoga, exercise and nutrition classes for residents. In collaboration with Legal Aid of Palm Beach County, AVDA developed a Community Wide Anti-Stalking Initiative for Palm Beach County, which has been used as a national model. AVDA is also a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team of Palm Beach County.
In 2014, AVDA demolished its original shelter building to rebuild a new state-of-the-art shelter building that will substantially increase AVDA’s capacity.
In 2015, AVDA’s newly rebuilt emergency shelter was open to residents June 30th. The new state-of-the-art building increases bed capacity by an additional 22 beds and allows AVDA to serve 44% more individuals annually. Pursuant to state law, the shelter is in an undisclosed location.
In 2016, AVDA received a substantial increase in funding from the Victims of Crime Act to add a victim advocate position. That same year, AVDA also received new funding from the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) to add a full time Economic Justice Advocate, thereby expanding AVDA’s economic empowerment program, Anne’s STEPS (Support Training and Education for Personal Success). This expansion allows AVDA to offer the Anne’s STEPS program through the outreach program in addition to the residential programs.
Other newer outreach programs include a highly-collaborative Child Protection Investigation team project in which an AVDA advocate serves as a consultant to the CPI teams toward the goal of keeping children with the non-offending parents while holding perpetrators accountable for their behaviors and the Sexual Assault Response Team program in collaboration with Palm Beach County’s Victim Services, in which an AVDA advocate works with domestic violence survivors who have been sexually assaulted.
AVDA believes one of the best ways to change individual’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors about domestic and dating violence is through education. In 2008, AVDA’s Commit to Change: A Violence Prevention Initiative was developed in partnership with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV). This state-wide initiative is supported by the Governor’s office in response to the Center for Disease Control’s call to end intimate partner violence, a leading health concern worldwide. In 2015, AVDA was awarded funding to specifically work with young men and boys to prevent domestic violence funded through a federal grant from the Office on Violence Against Women to FCADV and passed through to AVDA. This programming component engages adult male allies to mentor boys in developing skills to engage in healthy relationships and create a public education campaign to promote healthy relationships in our county. October 1, 2017, AVDA was awarded a grant from Palm Beach County Division of Youth Services to hire another Violence Prevention Educator to expand AVDA’s prevention program by starting Men of Strength Clubs engaging men and boys in building individualized definitions of masculinity that promote healthy relationships. Commit to Change programming creates the social change necessary to reduce inequities and disparities within our community that works against women’s empowerment, self-determination, economic, and gender equity by empowering young women and mobilizing young men as allies in reducing violence against women and girls.
AVDA's growth reflects the dedication of the organization to empower victims of domestic abuse to enable them to live their lives independently and free of fear.