Safe Journeys: Violence education and available services

Hope Beelman, IV Leader Editor

As a community and prevention educator at Safe Journeys, Heather Steele has many duties when it comes to building relationships within the community and providing education related to violence and oppression. 

Although Steele has only been with Safe Journeys for under one year, she loves her position as it allows her to educate others and share her passion of keeping people safe and healthy. 

“As a feminist, I feel like it is my duty to make people aware of the gravity of the pandemic levels of sexual and domestic violence occurring in our community,” said Steele. 

Much of Steele’s role at Safe Journeys consists of sending out messages through Facebook and Instagram to reach the community. She provides presentations, lectures, and workshops on a variety of topics including trauma, human trafficking, rape culture, consent, bystander intervention, and more. 

“I work with the community and IVCC to further our prevention goals,” Steele explained. “One of the most common trainings I conduct is recognizing abuse and then how to respond… We also train hospital staff, police, and teachers on prevention so that they can implement strategies in their organization.” 

In addition to Steele’s duties, Safe Journeys, a nonprofit located in Streator, Ill., offers services for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Livingston and LaSalle counties. 

Steele explained that all services are free of charge and confidential. They include counseling for adults and children, case management, shelter, legal and medical advocacy, and a frequently used support line for survivors that operates 24/7. 

She added that K-12 prevention educators are in schools every day of the week and the sizable number of counseling clients Safe Journeys works with. Counselors are also available to come to IVCC’s campus to provide services if needed. 

“Everything we do is victim-led,” said Steele. “We believe that victims should have the right to make their own decisions, especially because abusers seek to take away that control from a victim. Empowerment is a central theme when we work with survivors, as well as being trauma-informed so that we don’t cause any more harm.” 

As part of Wellness Week, Safe Journeys will be hosting a coping skills workshop at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30 in CTC 124. Steele is currently arranging for a speaker to share her story in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and has provided lectures in classes throughout the semester. 

IVCC’s students, staff, and faculty can get involved with Safe Journeys by volunteering, applying to work as shelter advocates, completing internships, and educating oneself and others. 

Steele and Safe Journeys recognize how difficult it may be to reach out for help and reminds everyone that they will never ask a survivor to do anything they are uncomfortable with. 

“To someone struggling: We believe you,” Steele stated. “Your pain/trauma is valid. We want to support you in whatever way you would like. Asking for help is brave. When you are ready, we are here. You are not alone.” 

For more information on Safe Journeys, see or call (815) 673-1555 for 24-hour support.