Fair Haven Center for Women is Lake County’s only designated rape crisis center. For Kelly Vates and other survivors, this is quite a feat for the county. Almost 11 years ago in 2005 the Center was opened to offer crisis intervention and continuing supportive services for victims of sexual assault and trauma, and primary prevention campaigns to prevent assault while working with the family unit.
These services were non existent in the county and victims in the area were forced to find services elsewhere in Porter County. At the time, Vates was traveling across the country in promotion of her book “Shattered Innocence” to share her own story of abuse and recovery.
“I really wrote that because I felt like that was what I was suppose to do,” said Vates. “I just believe that there is a God greater than me that directs some of our paths.”
The goal of her book was to encourage people and share her experience and hope. She wanted people to know that a life without pain was possible and worth the hard works.
“I knew the pain and secrecy of it,” said Vates. “The pain doesn’t go away just because it happened a long time ago.”
After her book was published she was leading thirteen conferences in twelve months across the country. She was having the time of her life. She loved it and wanted to do it forever, until one life changing day.
During one of her book signings back home in Merrillville, Vates was confronted by five women who struggled with abuse in their past. They disclosed their stories to her and were desperate for services that they could not find in Lake County.
Vates made it her mission the very next day to find them help. “14 phone calls later I was on the phone with someone who was really trying to be helpful.” said Vates.
The man on the other line was trying his best to find resources for her. “Can I read something to you?” he asked Vates. He began reading a passage from a newspaper, a story of an inspiring sexual abuse survivor. It was Vates’ story. She knew right then and there what she had to do.
Vates began partnering with a local domestic violence shelter and started a sexual support group. Then a few years later, Vates and her Co-Founder, Patty Conley, collaborated and decided to create an entity, a Lake County Crisis Center.
Now with over 20 years of experience in recovery and 13 in Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy, Vates is currently working with the Sexual Assault Examiners (SAE) and she is a National Speaker and Trainer on Sexual Assault.
As a survivor of abuse herself, Vates keeps herself healthy by going to meetings and working with people who are also healing.
“It’s an honor and privilege to walk alongside victims of sexual assault,” said Vates. “Together they get better and I am not alone in this.”
Vates continues to work alongside victims to support them and show them the way to recovery at the Fair Haven Center. She is happily married to her husband of 28 years, has three grown children and a grandchild, with another on the way.