The statistics are staggering. In the United States, a woman is beaten by a domestic partner every seven seconds. Thirty percent of women treated in hospital emergency rooms are victims of domestic violence. In Orange County alone, it is estimated that 250,000 adults and children are currently affected by domestic violence, and county law enforcement agencies typically receive 8,000 calls annually for assistance in a domestic violence situation.
Laura’s House, established in 1994, is a domestic violence prevention organization that serves Orange County and surrounding regions. For nearly a quarter-century, the nonprofit has provided safe refuge to men, women and children escaping life-threatening family situations. Since its inception, more than 5,000 abused men, women and children have received shelter and support services. Its expansive services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, an emergency shelter, transitional housing, counseling and therapeutic services, violence prevention and education, and start-to-finish legal services and advocacy.
2018 marks highly respected CEO/Executive Director Margaret Bayston’s 20th year with the organization. Deploying a kind and caring disposition, skilled leadership and unrelenting passion, Bayston has grown Laura’s House to become a prominent domestic violence shelter in Orange County, helping more than 55,000 victims with counseling, legal services and life skills education. Bayston and her team have been instrumental in much of the success of the nonprofit, spearheading partnerships with major local businesses and foundations, including Barney & Barney, Verizon, Girls Scouts of Orange County, Urban Decay, Tilly’s Life Center, Tevora, Wet Seal and When Georgia Smiled: the Robin McGraw Revelation Foundation.
Living out a mission to inspire hope and empower change to end domestic violence, Laura’s House believes that ending the cycle of abuse starts at the most impressionable years – during adolescence. The agency pioneered the H.E.A.R.T. (Healthy Emotions & Attitudes in Relationships Today) program, an interactive workshop to prevent adolescent dating abuse that covers topics such as healthy relationships, self-esteem, safety planning, Internet safety and bullying. The program targets teens 12-17 and is presented to the public, private schools, congregations, civic organizations and clubs throughout Orange County. In 2018, Laura’s House, in collaboration with Tilly’s Life Center, launched the first annual “Festival of Hearts” teen conference, which brought together 300+ youths in Orange County to learn about dating violence and the importance of healthy relationships.