In 1989, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler wrote the song “Janie’s Got a Gun,” which described a harrowing story of a girl’s abuse by her father. Nearly 30 years later, Tyler has created a place abused girls to come to for help and safety in metro Atlanta.
Janie’s House officially opened with a “scarf cutting” on Dec. 6th in Douglasville, Ga. Tyler appeared, along with community leaders, donors, and a number of young women who are now residents of the new center. The home has enough beds to house up to 30 girls every year, and includes access to 24-hour medical care and therapeutic support, according to the center’s website.
Tyler worked with the nonprofit organization Youth Villages, which focuses on getting children out of the poverty cycle that can be created by abusive families and an unstable care system. With their help, he created Janie’s Fund as a way to support the organization and the young girls it helps.
“What kind of help could Janie have received that would have prevented her trauma? How often does sexual abuse like this happen in our country? What can we do about it? With Janie’s Fund, Steven is using his big voice to give a voice to the thousands of victims who haven’t had one. He feels this is his life’s work and legacy,” said the organization in a statement on its website.
Two years later, that project eventually led to the creation of a physical home for girls — Janie’s House.
“Steven designed everything, from the logos to the quotes in the rooms to the color scheme,” Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler told the AJC. Lawler told the paper the goal of the house was to help girls through specific difficult situations, with the hope of eventually reuniting them with their families or moving them into stable foster care.
Tyler’s feelings toward the plight of young abuse victims stems from a story he was told when he was going through his own recovery in the 1980s, according to a press release from Youth Villages. A woman told a story of how she had been viciously sexually abused as a child, and the abuse had led her on a cycle of drug abuse to ease the pain.
“While I was in (rehab), I found out most of women in there were battered and beaten and abused verbally and sexually in huge numbers,” Tyler told CNN. He said he hoped the girls in the home could avoid the pain and suffering so many of those women experienced.
“I'm hoping that they get some tools, some advice, some ways to work stuff out, some words of wisdom that they can then live by,” he told CNN.
Tyler toured the facility and met the residents before posting about the experience on Instagram the day after the opening.
“Spending the day with these girls ... I’m just so proud of them! I'm just relieved they have a safe space to be who they are. To grow into amazing young women who will do great things in the world,” Tyler wrote.