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Our organization was born in 1976 as a volunteer-led, 24 hour Helpline.
Our original crusaders for justice, circa 1979.
No shelters, no court advocates… just a handful of inspired and passionate local activists working hard to give voice and support to survivors. A national study had revealed that 25% of women were experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime. Even more disturbing, 90% of survivors were not telling anyone about these abuses. Survivors were literally silent about this type of violence that was impacting an eighth of the American population. Grassroot, volunteer-lead organizations like ours were popping up all over the country to try to fill the void of services for women who were trying to escape and recover from intimate partner violence (although of course it wasn’t called that yet.)
The women who worked to start this organization – then called the Kalispell Rape Crisis Line – faced a social climate that was significantly “less hospitable” to their work than we do now as we pursue the mission of The Abbie Shelter. We feel a deep connection to the women of our past – the founding mothers, as we call them. They were Edge Walkers. Brave Talkers. Movers and Shakers. Dreamers and Doers. Determined Challengers of the status quo. They succeeded. Since that beginning, what started as our volunteer-led hotline has grown and blossomed into a leading local nonprofit organization in the Flathead.
The Abbie Shelter opened in 1994 and is named for Abigail Frederick, a vocal and vibrant Flathead Valley peace activist.
Abbie had a strong presence among peacemakers in the valley, and she dedicated much of her time to advocating for those who fell through the cracks of a non-peaceful system.
The organization’s work of promoting nonviolence and justice in all its parts is done in honor of all the brave and creative women who refused to be silent about domestic and sexual violence, and in honor of the strength and courage of all survivors of violence.
Abbie Frederick in her element, circa 1990.
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