By Adam Rosante
ADAM ROSANTE: For anyone who’s not familiar, what is The Retreat?
LORETTA DAVIS: The Retreat provides safety, shelter and support for kids and adults who are victims of relationship violence, abuse and/or sexual assault. We provide counseling, legal assistance, financial-empowerment workshops, accompaniment to court, case management services, violence prevention education and emergency shelter. We also have a 24-hour multilingual hotline (631.329.2200) and online chat for anyone who needs help. All services are free.
AR: What would someone who’s familiar with The Retreat be surprised to learn?
LD: The one that always shocks people is that abuse happens regardless of income. What you see on the surface isn’t necessarily what’s happening behind closed doors. Also, most people think all of our clients live at the shelter. The majority access our services from their homes on the East End. They’re transitioning or changing their lives and don’t reside in our shelter.
AR: What’s your biggest challenge, right now?
LD: Funding, for sure. While we have government grants and contracts, we diligently seek funding from foundations, private donors and businesses. We also raise revenue from our Bridgehampton thrift store, The Retreat Boutique (at 2102 Montauk Highway in the Bridgehampton Commons, just across the parking lot from T.J. Maxx), and from events.
AR: Can you share a success story?
LD: There are so many survivor tales. That’s the important message. For those still living with abuse, look to our success stories. Reach out and get help. We had a child who stopped speaking because of the abuse he witnessed. After individual and family counseling, he began to speak again because of the trust and support he experienced.
There’s also the story of a client who had a gun pointed at her and her infant. She left her home and everything behind. With legal assistance and counseling, she became financially stable and lives independently. Today, she’s a mentor and spokesperson for other survivors.
AR: Why is it important to use your life to be of service?
LD: Most of us want to make the world a better place, and that means helping others. When you work with families who’ve suffered from abuse and violence, many of whom are marginalized and vulnerable, you help facilitate positive change in their lives. What’s more important than that?
AR: How can someone get involved with The Retreat?
LD: Join our team as a volunteer! You can work in the office, be trained on the hotline, drive clients to medical/ court appointments, be a spokesperson for The Retreat, help at events or join one of our committees. We have lots of options with varied schedules. You can also donate your gently used clothes to our thrift store and buy items at the store. Revenue from the store helps to cover the cost of our free services. We also offer prevention education workshops. Attend one and help change the world.
Support The Retreat by donating online: allagainstabuse.org. Upcoming events include Artists and Writers Charity Softball Game, Saturday, August 21, East Hampton. East End Fund for Children, Round Up at Citarella, August through Labor Day at Citarella in East Hampton, Bridgehampton and Southampton