“I said, ‘Maybe I could go back to college now that the kids are not so small, or just take a class and learn computers.’ He said, ‘Oh, you want to meet somebody else.’”Diana Rodriguez, survivor and peer educator
“When you’re under the thumb of an abuser, you tend to lose yourself. You just give up. You’re holding on to that relationship so hard, trying to keep the peace. Nothing else seems as important.”
“Making the call to Between Friends was difficult. But then I thought, ‘Just do this. Whatever comes of it, let’s see what happens.’ Well, I had a wonderful counselor for six months, and for a year-and-a-half now, I’ve been in support groups.”
“Recuperating is a very complex process. You get into counseling and you feel like you’re making good progress, and then you get triggered by something and you’re right back where you were. You think, ‘After everything I’ve learned, how can I be in this place again?’ Changing old patterns takes time, but I know I’ll get there.”
“Right now, I’m an ambassador for a new peer-to-peer economic empowerment seminar. We’re giving input on what kinds of things to cover, then we’ll get training to lead the seminars. Maria, the counselor, said, ‘Don’t feel bad because you’re not college educated or you don’t have these credentials. We’re going to give you the tools, and we’re going to help you.’”
“Learning how to be financially independent, how to rebuild your credit, all those things, is crucial for any person, and much more so for survivors. Without it, there’s no way to move forward, there’s no way to have freedom.”
“I’m 54 years old now. I have four grown children, two boys and two girls, with their own children. And before last year, I had never lived on my own in my life. Just to be able to decide for myself what I’m going to do today—I can’t tell you what it means to me.”
The same year, prevention workers connected with 10,194 survivors in Chicago, providing nearly 150,000 hours of life changing services and support.
Police intervention can interrupt interpersonal violence. Hospitals and clinics can treat injuries. Shelters can provide a few weeks or months of safety. But first-response strategies, while critically important, are not cures. For survivors and their families to heal and rebuild their lives, they need ongoing services that take into account their age, their life circumstances, and the challenges they face. They may need long-term counseling; permanent housing that supports family stability; financial assistance, including education, to build or repair credit, establish economic independence, and accumulate assets; job training and employment services; and legal assistance for everything from securing orders of protection to child custody, debt relief, and immigration proceedings.
We’ve been supporting the treatment and prevention of domestic violence/interpersonal violence since we began making grants in 1997. In the intervening years, we’ve watched our partners steadily increase their capacity to meet survivors’ diverse and complex needs, both as individual agencies and as collaborators. Yet demand continues to outstrip resources. A case in point: In 2016, nearly 5,000 people seeking shelter—2,292 adults and 2,556 children—had to be turned away.
For every 1 person who received shelter for domestic violence in Chicago in 2016, 5 were turned away.
The 2017 needs assessment we commissioned in partnership with Polk Bros. Foundation and Crown Family Philanthropies is today sparking critical thinking and collaborative problem solving among funders and service providers.
Too many of those who experience domestic or interpersonal violence never interact with the traditional domestic violence service system. We need to understand why and address those concerns. Communities that have the highest rates of domestic violence in the city have no access points to services. We need to remove geographic barriers to care. Many of the issues that keep victims in—or return them to—violent or abusive relationships are not unique to domestic violence. It’s time to join forces with others who work on poverty, employment, and affordable housing.
We believe that we stand at an inflection point. By reexamining some of the basic assumptions that underlie our current systems and strategies, together we can reimagine the domestic violence service landscape and reshape the future of prevention for our city and the nation.
Turning “domestic disturbance” calls into offers of assistance, referrals, and links to resources and services
Grantee: Family Rescue
Project: Domestic Violence Reduction Unit Multi-Disciplinary Team in Chicago Police Districts 3 and 4
Putting domestic violence counseling where victims are
Grantee: Lakeview Pantry
Project: Survivor and Family Empowerment (SAFE) services for food pantry clients
Exploring innovative alternatives to traditional shelters to better meet survivors’ needs
Grantee: Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Project: Domestic Violence Alternative Shelter Planning Cooperative