Michelle L. Shae | 2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards
Michelle Shae, Director of the YWCA Hanover Safe Home Program, has helped victims of crimes in Maryland and Pennsylvania for 30 years. Her tireless devotion has made a difference to countless survivors. Ms. Shae’s unwavering commitment to clients, victims’ services, and victims’ rights is an inspiration.
Michelle Shae received the National Crime Victim Service Award. Visit the OVC Gallery for more information about her work to support victims of crime.
MICHELLE SHAE: When people are in crisis, they're telling me very personal things that have happened to them, and they've never met me before.
We serve every domestic violence victim that comes to us. They are brave for asking for help. All of our services are free and confidential. People might not want to leave their abusive partner, but knowing that if something does happen, that you can go to your local neighborhood Safe Home and get the services that you're requesting, to me, it's really the heart of our domestic violence program. We're in a very rural area. We're always trying to find a way that our clients can get the services they need.
It's hard when you're working with children, preparing them to testify. It's scary. We started gradually, just partnering with Keystone Pet Therapy for children that were testifying for child sexual assault cases. When they were asked very tough questions about what had happened to them, they would eventually answer us, but they would be talking to the dog.
The open courtroom, it's a place that is very intimidating for those, even many adults, that testify. A lot of times when we were preparing children to work with the Bikers Against Child Abuse, on the day of the actual trial where they have to face the defendant, there's usually a whole group. It was wonderful, because it was men and women in their biker vests, patches, emblems, right there with them when they have to be in the same room with somebody that's committed a crime against them.
WOMAN: The Advocate decisions …
MICHELLE SHAE: For me, active listening has been one of the hardest skills to learn. Because I feel, sometimes when people are telling me stories, I feel empathetic, I feel motivated to take action, and that's not always what people need. And so, over my 20-plus years, that's what I've learned is to become a better active listener and hear them tell me what might help them.
It's important to do, but I also do think it is a calling.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.