About Mutual Ground

Mutual Ground is the safe place where people come together to break the cycle of domestic violence and sexual abuse. We are not just a shelter, we are a solution.

Our Service Area

Located in Aurora, Illinois, Mutual Ground serves the Greater Aurora area, Southern Kane and all of Kendall County.

We answer almost 2,000 calls for help each and every month with 24-hour hotlines staffed by trained Mutual Ground Crisis Intervention Advocates.

As one of the oldest and largest domestic violence and sexual assault service agencies in the state of Illinois, Mutual Ground is the place where the healing begins.

We provide comprehensive victim services free of charge with support from grants, churches, civic groups, corporate and individual donors.

Our Vision

To create a society free of domestic and sexual violence

Our Mission

 To provide education, awareness, and life-changing services that empower individuals, families, and communities to end the cycle of domestic and sexual violence.

Core Values

The Core Values that guide our work are:

  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Community

Our Goal for this Website

Leaving a bad situation is the critical first step. But then what? Almost all of our clients are faced with overwhelming decisions that go far beyond emergency housing. This website will help answer questions about what we do, how we can help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, the educational programs that we offer the community, and why your support is so very important to our cause.

Our History

While domestic violence and sexual abuse are far more known about today—they are not a new problem in our society.

A local group of women known as the Women’s Development Council was concerned about the prevalence of domestic violence. Some experienced it in their lives or saw it destroying their friend’s lives and damaging the fabric of this community as a whole.

The idea for a safe haven for victims was born and Mutual Ground was incorporated in August of 1975. The goal of our new agency was to provide emergency shelter for families in crisis and offer 24-hour services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. These services initially included counseling, support and referrals to other agencies.

1978 to 1990
Our first shelter opened in1978 on the top floor of a property rented from the 1st Presbyterian Church in Aurora. Funding was precarious, and by 1980 the agency was operating on a $30,000 deficit. The nation’s economy was ailing, which at the family level translated to higher incidences of domestic violence and sexual assault. Fortunately, things turned around and in 1984 Mutual Ground purchased a two-story house on North Lake Street that could serve 14 women and children. Sexual assault services were housed in a separate building on Lincoln Avenue.

1990 to Date
The need for domestic violence services surged in the early 1990s and Mutual Ground had to turn away hundreds of women and children each year due to lack of bed space.

A search began to find a building for everyone who needed a place where the healing could begin. We came upon the Edna Smith Home at the corner of West Park and Oak Avenue in Aurora and immediately saw its many possibilities, including a shelter area that eventually could be doubled. The 36,000 square foot building had ample bedroom space and sat on four acres with plenty of grass and parking.

The oldest wing of the building was built in 1853 and there were several additions made over the years. It was in need of drastic renovation that included updates to furnaces, plumbing and air conditioning.

An area that was once a church sanctuary needed to be remodeled into offices and group rooms.

There were many challenges but we prevailed, and in 1995, following a successful $2.3 million capital campaign, Mutual Ground was able to purchase and renovate the building. After more than 20 years we finally located all of our services together!

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy is to guide and not dictate. We empower our client with the education and support they need to make informed choices. We are good stewards of the financial support we receive and work hard to ensure that every dollar helps us provide comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Greater Aurora, Southern Kane and Kendall Counties.

We believe that:

  • Every person has the right to a violence-free life—anything less is completely unacceptable in a civilized society.
  • It is important to strive to create a community where violence is not tolerated or hidden regardless of social station or economic situation.
  • Every individual in our community must become more aware of how to prevent, intervene and be less tolerant of domestic violence.
  • Our society must hold individuals responsible for their abusive behavior and not look the other way no matter how uncomfortable an intervention will make us feel.
  • Social change is necessary in preventing future crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault, as it is oftentimes a learned behavior that only flourishes when tolerated.
  • The abuser perpetrates acts of control and power that the victim has not provoked, enjoyed or deserved—and myths to the contrary must be dispelled at all costs.
  • The victim is not responsible or accountable for these crimes; hence all services are provided at no charge.
  • Victims are often traumatized, suffer from low self-esteem and have limited access to resources. These factors working together keep them trapped in violent relationships.
  • With safety, counseling, and supportive services, survivors of domestic violence heal, gain empowerment and decide to live free of violence.
  • Violence can be a learned behavior, and equally important, intervention and treatment alternatives to abusive behavior also can be learned.
  • Children from violent homes experience trauma, suffer psychologically, physically, emotionally and socially, and child witnesses should also be considered primary victims of domestic violence.
  • Early intervention, prevention education, domestic violence education and community awareness can interrupt the intergenerational cycle of violence and reduce the social acceptance of domestic violence.
  • More work must be done to increase community awareness by providing presentations to groups and organizations, professional programs for those in direct contact with victims and prevention/education programs for children in school.
  • We must address domestic violence at the local, state, and national level. Legislative and institutional mandates and appropriate responses by police, prosecutors and judges are essential in eliminating domestic violence.
  • We hold the above to be true and make a conscious effort to apply these principles to every interaction with every client—so the healing may begin.