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Domestic violence shelter opens on Treasure Coast after donation from Gabby Petito's father

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Posted at 11:22 AM, Feb 24, 2022

VERO BEACH, Fla. — The only state-certified domestic abuse center on the Treasure Coast is, unfortunately, making more room for victims.

Safe Space hosted a ribbon-cutting for its new shelter at the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning.

The location of the actual shelter is confidential in order to protect victims from their abusers.

Inside the shelter are individual rooms with 19 beds.

The space also includes two full-sized kitchens and a common area for gathering.

"We actually save lives every single day," said Teresa Albizu, CEO of Safe Space. "If you think about it, that one in three women, and one in four men, are exposed to domestic violence in their lifetime, it's a huge number of people. It's over one-third of the population in this nation."

Back in January, Joe Petito, Gabby Petito's father, visited the shelter while it was still under construction.

Gabby was killed by her then-fiance Brian Laundrie while traveling on a cross-country road trip.

Petito and his wife donated $15,000 on behalf of his daughter's foundation towards renovation costs.

"You're not talking just a house. You're talking food, clothing, therapy, financial guidance," said Petito. "These are issues that affect everyone. There's not an economic level it doesn't affect."

Safe Space already has one shelter in operation on the Treasure Coast.