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Coming Together to End Sexual Abuse

Safer Society Foundation grew out of the work of Fay Honey Knopp who saw that effective responses to sexual violence occurred at the societal level. Today we view sexual abuse as a public health issue, and work to engage survivors, treatment professionals, persons with sexual behavior problems, family members, friends, policy makers, researchers and educators in creating evidence-based strategies for preventing sexual abuse, supporting those who have been abused, and managing those who have abused. We believe in the ability of people to make positive changes in their lives. Through Safer Society Press we provide books on prevention, treatment, and policy for survivors, persons in treatment, families, and professionals. We maintain a national database of professionals who provide specialized treatment services for persons with sexual behavior problems. This web site seeks to provide information and resources related to many aspects of sexual abuse and its societal impacts.

History of Safer Society Foundation

The groundwork for Safer Society Foundation was laid over 30 years ago when Fay Honey Knopp began her work as a prison visitor. As she spent time with large numbers of inmates, she became convinced major changes were needed in the criminal justice system. In 1975, under the auspices of the New York State Council of Churches, she founded the Prison Research Education/Action Project (PREAP). PREAP was a national project which engaged in advocacy research and action on nonrepressive alternatives to incarceration for offenders, remedies for victims, and primary and secondary prevention strategies. By 1979, PREAP’s work focused on society’s response to sexual violence. Ms. Knopp was advocating for more appropriate responses to sexual violence than, as she wrote in a letter, “warehousing the perpetrators in prison, neglecting sexual assault victims, and abdicating our responsibility to prevent such assaults.”

In the early 1980’s few programs existed to treat either juvenile or adult sex offenders. Ms. Knopp researched those programs that did exist. She wrote books describing these programs to assist other starting their own programs. She also wrote a pamphlet addressed to judges and legislators advocating early intervention with and treatment of juvenile sex offenders to prevent a life-long history of offending.

These books, and others resulting from the work of PREAP, were published under the Safer Society Press imprint. As PREAP’s focus changed to sexual violence prevention and treatment, the decision was made to drop the PREAP name and use Safer Society Press and Program instead. The Press and Program were still projects of the New York State Council of Churches.

During these early years, the work of Safer Society Press and Program was accomplished by the volunteer efforts of Ms. Knopp and independent contractors she hired to help with some projects. In 1985, Safer Society hired its first employee. Safer Society Program continued to grow, and in 1992, Robert Freeman-Longo was recruited to be the associate director. When Ms. Knopp’s failing health required her to step down as director, Mr. Freeman-Longo and his wife became co-directors.

In 1995, Safer Society Press and Program separated from the New York State Council of Churches and became an independent 501(c)3 organization, incorporating under the name of Safer Society Foundation.

Since 1995, Safer Society has continued the work begun by Ms. Knopp.  The Freeman-Longo’s left the organization in 1996. Today a staff of four carries on the legacy of these pioneers by working to find holistic solutions to sexual abuse.  Safer Society Press continues to publish books from leading researchers in the field and to provide leading-edge, evidence-based approaches and information on prevention and treatment. We also include in our catalog books from other publishers related to the topic. We distribute the guidebooks created by Stop It Now! to help adults prevent child sexual abuse. Our free referral service helps hundreds of people each year locate specialized treatment for help with sexual behavior problems.  Periodically, Safer Society conducts a nationwide survey of specialized sexual offender treatment programs that provides a snapshot of the field. The latest survey was conducted in Spring of 2009, and included information on Canadian programs as well as those in the United States.