89.1 WEMU

Barbara Niess-May

SafeHouse center / https://www.safehousecenter.org/

The SafeHouse Center shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Ann Arbor is constantly at, or near, capacity.  The number of helpline calls to the center is at an all-time high.  These are insidious and pervasive issues right here in our home community.  89.1 WEMU's David Fair sat down with SafeHouse Center executive director Barbara Niess-May, to discuss where we've come, where we are, and where we need to go.


Denim Day
Denim Day / denimdayinfo.org

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and today is Denim Day.  These designations are designed to increase awareness about sexual assault and the societal behaviors and perceptions that must be changed.  Safehouse Center executive director Barbara Niess-May joins WEMU's David Fair to discuss what Denim Day has accomplished and what still needs to be done. 


Courtesy Photo / Purple Rose Theatre

Perhaps one of the most difficult issues to discuss is domestic violence.  Michigan playwright Carey Crim authored the play "Never Not Once" and takes a deep dive into the emotional and personal issues dealt with the aftermath of such horrific crimes.  Artistic explorations, like this, can have a positive impact on how the public deals with such difficult issues.  That's the focus on this week's "creative:impact. " 


David Fair / 89.1 WEMU

A year has passed since the #MeToo movement brought more attention to sexual assault and harrassment.  WEMU's David Fair talks to Safehouse Center executive director Barbara Niess-May and U of M law professor and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastrern District of Michigan Barb McQuade about how the movement has emboldened survivors and launched a conversation that will create positive change in the years to come.  


For 19 years now, a day in April is reserved for 'Denim Day.'  Its origins stem from a case in France in which a rapist was acquitted because the teenaged female agreed removed her own blue jeans in the course of the assault.  The next day, female lawmakers in the French Parliament wore denim to work in a show of solidarity and disgust.  WEMU's David Fair talks with Barbara Niess-May, the executive director of Safehouse Center in Washtenaw County, about where we've come since then and the work that still needs to be done. 


Safe House Center

"Me too."

Just two words are being used on social media as a way for women--and some men--to share that they've been sexually harassed or assaulted.  It's a national conversation that began following the growing number of complaints of sexual harassment or abuse against Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

89.1 WEMU'S Lisa Barry spoke with Barbara Niess-May, the executive director of Safe House Center, which provides support for women who've been abused, about the discussion in Washtenaw County.


Despite an increased national spotlight on domestic violence, it is an issue that, too often, is still discussed in hushed tones. In Washtenaw County, law enforcement agencies, the prosecutor's office and community leaders are standing up and speaking out. Additionally, they are working closely with Safehouse Center to bring the issue out of the shadows.