SAFETY EXIT

A Chance to Heal for Survivors of Domestic Violence

A Chance to Heal for Survivors of Domestic Violence

June 1, 2017

Written by: Guest contributor, Lisa Shaffer

Lisa Shaffer and her husband, Steve Bartram, are long-time CRC supporters. Lisa served on the Encinitas City Council from 2012-2016.

domestic-violence-shelter-bed-carols-house

“Everybody deserves to be safe and grow up in a household free of violence.” This is the guiding philosophy of Community Resource Center’s domestic violence (DV) program. To meet this goal, CRC offers a range of services from prevention to intervention. I recently met with Rebecca (Becca) Nussbaum, who leads the DV program, and has been working at CRC since a college internship more than ten years ago, and learned much more.

I knew CRC offered emergency and transitional housing and counseling services to victims of DV. I had heard some of their moving stories at the annual CRC English Tea fundraisers. CRC is North County’s leading provider of DV prevention programs. The CRC domestic violence hotline received over 1,900 calls in 2016. What I didn’t know was the extent of interconnected programs and services that weave a web of support for CRC clients. And that web is delivering clear and strong positive results. For example, 84% of all DV program clients demonstrate an increase in their self-sufficiency – problem-solving, household management, and employment skills, and 82% maintained or increased their income.

These amazing results come from the integrated CRC system, where a client who enters the program as a DV survivor, in addition to finding emergency housing and a path toward long-term accommodations, can access food assistance in the Food & Nutrition Center; vouchers good at the resale shops for clothing, furniture, and household effects; and psychological support for both adults and children in the counseling program. A case manager is assigned to each client and stays with them as they recover, regroup, and move forward. Not everyone needs every service and all services are voluntary, but whatever they need is there. CRC itself is part of a larger regional network of service providers who work together to ensure that nobody falls through the cracks. At the state level, CRC is part of the leadership of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, a coalition that provides training, best practices, and information exchange, to keep up with the latest research and advocate for funding from state and federal sources.

Did you know that youth ages 16-24 are the most vulnerable age group to experience relationship violence? To prevent people from becoming victims of DV, CRC provides education for the broader community to recognize early warning signs, understand the challenges facing victims, and increase awareness that DV is present at all income levels in all communities. I was shocked to learn that one in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. We all need to be part of the solution! Educating teens about “safe dates” and providing peer-to-peer counseling in high schools is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of violence and build stronger, safer families and CRC offers that training at local schools.

Children in the DV program have access to the Therapeutic Children’s Center. Newly renovated through a donation from Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, the center offers weekly counseling and group therapy, as well as daily therapeutic activities, including art therapy. The vast majority of children reduce their symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve their self-concept. This not only helps them now, but reduces the chances of perpetuating the cycle of DV that so often afflicts DV families who don’t have access to such resources.

So what can you do to help?

Financial contributions can make a big impact. Whether the funds are used to cover child care while parents are receiving services or working, or applied to the cost of furnishing the emergency housing units, it all helps. Specifically:

$125 can help provide an individual or family with the counseling they need to heal.
$500 can help provide a family of four with healthy food for an entire month!
$1,000 can help provide a child with the counseling and therapy they need to heal.
$3,000 can help provide safe housing, counseling, a transition to independence, and a new start to a survivor and children.

 

I feel incredibly grateful that I have not needed CRC’s services. I am also incredibly grateful that CRC exists and is there for people who are in need, and I recognize that it could some day be me or a family member. So I am incredibly grateful for a chance to pay it forward and support these important services.

As with other CRC programs, volunteers are always needed, but to volunteer in the DV program, you need to complete a special 40-hour training program. But do not despair if you can’t make that kind of commitment. Educating yourself and your family about DV; providing financial or in-kind support; and serving as a role model of loving, compassionate human relations brings us all closer to being able to ensure that everyone is safe and can grow up in a household free of violence, thanks to CRC and you.

Resources:

TOLL-FREE 24-HOUR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRISIS HOTLINE: 1-877-633-1112

Trained staff are available to answer questions you have regarding resources available for victims of domestic violence, 24 hours a day. All calls remain strictly confidential. Clients may call to see if there are openings in CRC’s Domestic Violence Program, or be referred to other domestic violence services and housing that are available in San Diego County.