• Mandy Chitwood

History of Defy Domestic Abuse Beloit

Updated: Apr 11

Take a moment to learn more about our program’s history


Tracing our roots back to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Defy Domestic Abuse Beloit has served survivors of domestic abuse in Rock County Wisconsin for going on 50 years, and in those many decades, we’ve seen a profound positive shift in our community.

When we first started, the professional social work field wasn’t able to offer survivors of domestic abuse many resources. Why? Because domestic abuse remained largely unrecognized at that time.

Back then, domestic abuse was severely understudied, which effectively cut off legal, social, and medical services for survivors of domestic abuse. This lack of recognition also left us with unreliable statistics regarding domestic abuse and no legal or medical protocols for how to effectively respond to survivors of domestic abuse

But instead of going along with the status quo of the time, our program defied the norms. We recognized the lack of resources in our community for domestic abuse survivors, and we worked to close that gap. This led to the creation of safe houses for survivors, a network of homes organized by the YWCA of Beloit that provided shelter for women and children fleeing domestic abuse in Beloit, Wisconsin.


Even with this safe house network, survivors of domestic abuse in our community needed more. The YWCA of Beloit responded to this challenge by acquiring a home on Locust Street and converting it into a five bedroom shelter. This was accomplished with donations primarily from the community.

The house next door was then converted into offices, counseling rooms, and a play/therapy area for children, and the program began to hire a leadership staff who had a social work background and increased social work professional training regarding domestic abuse.

Then In the late 1990’s, the Beloit YWCA closed its doors, and The Beloit Salvation Army began to oversee the domestic abuse shelter program. The Beloit Salvation Army grew what Beloit YWCA started by developing transitional living services for clients exiting from the shelter. These services helped survivors transition to being completely independent. These services were offered at the former “Mercy Lodge” substance abuse facility.