Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sacramento’s New B.O.S.S. Program: Building Opportunities for Domestic Violence Survivors

By Tara Shabazz, Executive Director, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

When domestic violence survivors leave their abusive relationships and seek shelter, it can be a first step toward a new life. But what many people don’t realize is that after victims leave they must immediately face a whole new set of economic challenges, challenges that can sometimes tip the scale when they’re weighing whether or not to return to an abusive partner. Economic factors and financial issues play a critical role in domestic violence, and present serious obstacles for many women who wish to leave their batterers and stay out for the long term.

That’s why my agency, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, is so excited about a new program we’re launching with support from the Allstate Foundation: it’s called B.O.S.S., or “Building Opportunities for Survivors’ Success.” This groundbreaking new collaborative will help Sacramento-area service providers support survivors in achieving the financial stability they need to keep their families safe. Together with two local domestic violence agencies (My Sister’s House, WEAVE) and one homeless services agency (Women’s Empowerment) the Partnership will work to make Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead through Financial Management curriculum available to shelter residents and others affected by domestic violence.

Economic concerns are the most frequently cited reason survivors return to abusive relationships. If the choice is between going back to an abuser and becoming homeless, a victim may choose to return in order to keep a roof over their kids’ head or food on the table. Domestic violence advocates know that in order for survivors to build new, violence-free lives, they must have a solid financial foundation. Over the course of the coming year, the Partnership will use the Allstate Foundation’s grant to support the participating agencies in training their advocates to teach Allstate’s financial curriculum to their clients.

The Partnership is the statewide umbrella organization for California’s domestic violence service providers and allies, and so we’re uniquely positioned to support community programs in collaborative projects and resource sharing. The structure of the B.O.S.S. program is innovative, in that we’ve chosen as our collaborators one mainstream domestic violence agency (WEAVE) one culturally specific organization (My Sister’s House) and one homeless services provider (Women’s Empowerment). The Partnership strongly believes that by sharing expertise, advocates and allies can end domestic violence, because together we’re stronger.

The B.O.S.S. program is an amazing collaborative opportunity for community-based organizations to pool resources and share their strengths in addressing survivors’ financial literacy and stability. Our member advocates have told us that many survivors passing through their doors have questions about banking, credit ratings and how to begin to separate their financial lives from those of their abusers. In the coming year, the B.O.S.S. program will host a series of workshops on those topics; the workshops will take place at each of the participating agencies in turn, for maximum convenience for the survivor workshop participants. The Partnership will train advocates from the three local agencies to teach the workshop sessions and present supplemental materials in an engaging, accessible manner. We’ll also oversee the creation of a local resources list, and a consortium of Sacramento area community-based financial programs, community partners and other stakeholders to contribute to the sustainability of B.O.S.S. and other long-term strategies. We want Sacramento, and ultimately the whole of California, to be a place where victims can access services that will not only keep them safe in the short term, but will also help them build a long-term future that’s violence free and financially secure.

Tara Shabazz is the Executive Director of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, the nationally-recognized State Domestic Violence Coalition for California. Together with our 150 member organizations and individuals across the entire state, The Partnership has built upon the 30-year history of our predecessor organizations while forging into new territory to provide statewide leadership and successfully pass legislation to ensure safety and justice for domestic violence survivors and their children.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This month we join millions of Americans in recognizing National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and stand together to do all we can to stop violence before it starts. One in four women and one in nine men¹ in the United States are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives, and approximately 33 million² U.S. adults report that they were a victim of domestic violence. The epidemic is impressed upon each of us at CalVCP every single day because nearly 30% of the applications we receive for help are from victims of domestic violence.

The survivors we serve need many kinds of support, including mental health counseling, medical attention, and relocation. Visit our resource page to join the cause and learn more regarding statistics, resources, events, our Suited for Success clothing drive, applying for CalVCP benefits, and news and media surrounding the issue.

It is far past time to “Break the Silence” and put an end to these cowardly acts and senseless violence. This month, I stand with the victims and survivors of domestic violence to raise awareness and call for everyone to recognize the signs and take action.

1. CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey 2005
2. Based on July 2005 U.S. Census estimate released January 2006 (223,000,000 total U.S. adults aged 18 or over)

Portrait of Julie Nauman
Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.