There’s no race, religion or lifestyle resistant to emotional or physical violence, either, so your desire to launch a domestic abuse program will literally save lives. Start by achieving nonprofit 501(c)(3) status from the government (IRS Form 1023) so monies generated to launch and operate your program are exempt from taxes. Once you attain 501(c)(3) status you’ll be on your way to creating a safe haven for the women and children who need it most.

1. You must have an intensive understanding of domestic violence if you want to launch the most effective program possible. Training in social work, sociology and or psychology will help you fully understand the cycle of abuse. Volunteer at an agency determined to caring for abuse victims to study how a social service agency accepts, treats and assists clients. If possible, work at both an agency and a battered women’s shelter to assess both operations.

2. You must gain a complete understanding of the federal, state and community licensing requirements your program must meet. Your program and staff has unique mandates. Like for example, many states necessitate at least once licensed mental health practitioner on staff, so in addition to supporting materials required for permits, you may be asked for proof of one professional’s license.

3. Set a business plan with goals, objectives, a mission statement, budget and other documentation that exhibit you’re as prepared to run a business as you are to treat victims. Add details on the type of program you plan to run–outpatient or 24-hour shelter–so your projections and plans show the size and scope of your domestic violence program.

4. You must raise funds. Explore contributions from local philanthropists; hold fundraisers; solicit grant monies from agencies devoted to supporting domestic violence causes; and seek federal and state aid. Be keen on your research before you approach grantors and philanthropists so you don’t waste time pitching resources that don’t underwrite this type of agency.

5. You must choose a site for your program. You can rent an office; get a donated space in a church or community center, or locate a building sized to cater services you’ll provide. Apportion space as follows: administrative office, waiting room, private counseling rooms or cubicles and enough storage space to house the items you need to run your program.

6. You must seek in-kind donations to prevent buying furnishings, office equipment and supplies. Make public of your need for couches, desks, chairs, tables, filing cabinets and gently used computers, printers and office necessities. Then, build a list of people, organizations and agencies responsible for getting your program off the ground so you can honor them for their assistance in the future.

7. You must hire professional staff with good working experience with abused and battered victims or a criminal lawyer domestic violence. You must prepare your new business for clients by building a referral network, scheduling individual and group therapy sessions, partnering with food banks, clothing resale shops, hospitals, clinics and mental health agencies willing to assist your efforts. Don’t forget the children. Set aside a play area with books and toys.

8. Create a secure, password-protected system of recording, tracking and maintaining sensitive files on your computer system so everything from billing data to highly confidential notes taken by therapists is safeguarded. You can affiliate with a national advocacy group such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and turn to them when you need assistance or advice.