ACCESSIBLE & INCLUSIVE SERVICES PROJECT
Since our inception, NYSCADV has worked to provide ever evolving programmatic support to member programs in the provision of trauma-informed, survivor-centered domestic violence services. Increasing accessibility to programs continues to be a primary focus of the work that we do. In these ongoing efforts, we have gathered feedback from member programs and other stakeholders requesting more targeted, issue specific approaches to issues of accessibility. It is with excitement that we now introduce a comprehensive umbrella project that supports our member programs in their ongoing efforts to ensure that the services they provide meet the unique needs of all individuals and families who have been victimized by an abuser.
Effecting social change requires vigilance and ongoing self-assessment to ensure that we are trauma-informed, survivor-centered and meeting the needs of all victims who want domestic violence services. This project will include:
- Opportunities for all levels of member program staff and volunteers to increase their knowledge base regarding the unique needs of individuals and groups from historically marginalized communities.
- Guidance for member programs to review and evaluate the accessibility of their programs to everyone who has been victimized by an abuser.
- Support for member programs to create the change necessary to improve their accessibility.
Feedback from stakeholders across the state indicates that domestic violence services are, at times, very limited for many people. Lack of access endangers people even further, causing retraumatization. The ultimate goal of this project is to reduce the potential for domestic violence services to be offered in a manner that is limiting or retraumatizing to those that have been victimized by an abuser.
Additionally, we know that certain policies and procedures have developed over the years that have unintentionally resulted in practices that deny services to those clearly in need. These practices have developed under the pressure of the expectations and assumptions from funders, systems, and community stakeholders regarding the role of “the advocates,” creating organizational pressures that result in domestic violence services that are “service driven” rather than trauma-informed and survivor-centered.
Multiple forces, well intentioned and valid in concept, have strained our survivor-centered view . Through this project, we will be conducting an analysis of practices that have shifted away from their original intentions and may have resulted in decreasing the accessibility of domestic violence services. This is a task that will require the engagement and participation of NYSCADV’s membership. We ask that programs, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of accessibility, participate in this process, as it is important to share your successes and your challenges as a way to help your peers.
This project provides opportunities for dialogue, education and action in improving services and addressing the needs of historically marginalized and underserved communities. The order in which we deliver information does not indicate that NYSCADV is prioritizing the needs of one community over another. We are aware that communities are not fixed and the people that seek our services experience multiple oppressions throughout the continuum of their lives. As such, products generated throughout the course of this project must be viewed through a lens of intersectionality.
Even after decades of success in the domestic violence movement's development of appropriate, sensitive services, policy and legislative advances, myths about domestic violence and victim blaming persist, impacting the effectiveness of the criminal justice and civil legal systems' response to victims and survivors. Expert testimony is increasingly being used to address lingering misconceptions about domestic violence, shedding light on what remains a complex and deep-seated social problem. Research and experience indicate that domestic violence advocates can be successful expert witnesses and that they can effectively challenge the common myths that courts and other systems hold about domestic violence.
Domestic violence advocates can provide pertinent and compelling information during court proceedings that describe the prevalence and magnitude of domestic violence, explain the nature and dynamics of domestic violence, and shed light on the social and cultural context of abuse. Advocates can also paint a compelling picture of the consequences and effects of abuse on people who have been victimized, their children, and the family system as a whole. They can also successfully explain the commonly misunderstood survival strategies that victims and survivors employ to increase their safety and that of their children.
Building on training initially provided to membership in December 2013 by state and national experts, NYSCADV has launched a project that supports the use of domestic violence expert witnesses across the state. We have been working to grow and cultivate a network of advocates to serve as experts in domestic violence court proceedings. NYSCADV will continue to support this burgeoning community of practice with ongoing training and technical assistance. We will be launching a listserv for the dissemination of relevant information. The listserv will also provide a forum for members to utilize and offer support, and to share successes, challenges and lessons learned. NYSCADV will also compile research and talking points to use in the provision of expert witness testimony and the preparation of reports.
For more information about the project or for expert testimony related support, please contact Lorien Castelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 585-413-0887.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE
The Disaster Preparedness & Response Project is a collaborative effort between NYSCADV and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to increase the capacity of first responders and domestic violence programs to prepare for and respond to survivors’ needs in the midst of a disaster.
The project, funded through FVPSA, was developed in response to recovery efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Disasters like Superstorm Sandy expose the underlying social disparities among vulnerable populations, including victims of intimate partner violence. Domestic violence programs also face challenges to sustain the wellbeing and resilience of staff after a disaster strikes. Disaster preparedness is important, and practices focused on response, recovery and mitigation are equally important.
The two key components of this project are:
1. Facilitator trainings to key staff at domestic violence programs across the state.
The newly trained facilitators will then train first responders and domestic violence advocates on topics including:
- What is a natural disaster? What does intimate partner violence look like in disaster?
- What are the specific barriers that survivors of intimate partner violence face in times of disaster?
- Who are first responders? What do they do?
- What are the steps to disaster relief in my area?
- What protocol can my agency follow to ensure that survivors and staff are safe in the event of a disaster?
- How can I support a survivor who is experiencing intimate partner violence and disaster at the same time?
- How do I, as a staff person, get the support I need?
2. Assistance to survivors of intimate partner violence impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
For more information about resources for domestic violence programs and emergency responses as well as animal shelter database, follow the link to Clearing house on domestic violence and disaster website.