R&B singer MARY J. BLIGE has stepped up her campaign to help victims of domestic abuse - by opening a refuge for women in New York.
Blige has always been open about her past family problems, alleging her father often beat her mother before he walked out on the family when she was just four years old.
The star has also been a vocal supporter of women's charities and set up the Foundation For the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN) with record executive Steve Stoute in 2008.
Blige's organisation recently teamed up with Gucci creative director Frida Giannini and several New York-based organisations to fund the opening of a new centre for women, based in Yonkers.
The singer was on hand to open the facility on Thursday (29Oct09) and officially launch the Mary J. Blige Center for Women.
She tells CNN.com, "All age ranges will be able to come to this centre. Women from all walks of life, not just women from poverty-stricken areas. Whatever it is, they'll be able to come here. There are gonna be psychologists here, doctors here, day care centres here. Anything that you need or they need to be able to better themselves is here for them."
And Blige is delighted she has been able to use her fame to back a good cause: "That's why I think as celebrities we're given this job. We're not given this job to just hold onto this stuff and die with it. We're given this job to be able to touch someone and say, 'me, too,' because they look up to us and look to us for help and guidance and want to be able to relate to us."