Violence Against Women & Girls in San Francisco II

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In this section we discuss specific priority populations. These populations have been identified by VAW service providers, community based organizations (CBOs), women and girls who have experienced violence, and scholarly research as being under-served by existing services and/or at a high risk for victimization. These populations encompass many identities including culture, religion, immigrant status, type of violence experienced, occupation, housing status, disability, age, gender identity and sexual orientation. This reflects the complex and diverse circumstances in which violence occurs and the differing needs of women based upon their experiences and identities.

In understanding these populations and their particular vulnerabilities and needs it is important to remember that every individual embodies numerous identities. For example, a woman may be a recent immigrant, disabled, and a sexual assault survivor compounding the barriers she faces in accessing services and influencing her needs for services.


In addition to the complex interaction of multiple identities, there are also complicated interrelationships among other variables that must be considered in assessing these populations. Issues such as economic status, education, occupational skills, language skills, homelessness, and substance abuse all contribute to a person's experience of and ability to prevent or deal with violence.

The concepts of "race," "ethnicity," and "culture" are often erroneously used as a proxy for what is actually one of these more specific variables. Race has been defined by phenotypic traits such as skin color and facial features that are used to represent presumed biological differences between individuals and groups. These distinctions, meaningless unto themselves, are linked to particular social values, producing an ideology of race that is used to explain, predict and control social behavior. Race is often used interchangeably with ethnicity. Whereas the former is associated with biological difference, the latter is often used as a surrogate for social, economic, religious and political qualities including worldview, language, diet, dress, customs, kinship systems, and historical or territorial identity.

The danger in uncritically using race, ethnicity, or culture in describing differential patterns of violence within communities is that one may incorrectly assume that these patterns are endemic to particular groups and are explained as simply "cultural." For example, one service provider stated that she found an unstated assumption among some providers that "Samoan culture" is inherently "violent" and, therefore, little can be done to prevent violence in this community. She felt the needs of Samoans experiencing violence were being dismissed because of this erroneous assumption.

While there are different responses to violence in different communities, it is imperative to identify the complex interaction of underlying factors that contribute to these various responses. The primacy given to race, ethnicity and culture all too often conflate independent factors such as immigration history, relative economic status and values associated with age and gender that have direct impact on women seeking and accessing services related to violence.

Before presenting specific populations, we discuss some of these independent factors to provide a better understanding of how they may interact to produce a particular experience of violence and particular obstacles to ending violence.

5.1.1 Economic Status

Violence occurs within all economic strata. However, a woman's access to resources and her economic status influence her options, perceived or real, in dealing with violence. It appears also to affect her exposure to violence.

Poverty is associated with increased stresses including difficulty or an inability to meet basic life needs such as housing, food, and medical care. A 1997 review of the literature demonstrates the strong association between domestic violence and welfare.57 Various studies report that between 15% and 19.5% of welfare recipients reported experiencing current physical abuse from a partner. Between 34% and 65% reported experiencing physical abuse at some point in their adult lives. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has also noted a significant link between poverty and increased incidence of domestic violence, reporting that in 1992-93 women with annual family incomes under $10,000 were more likely to experience domestic violence than women earning more than $10,000.58

Clearly, there is a high prevalence of violence among women in poverty. This suggests two issues. First, poverty itself is a tremendous stressor perhaps exposing women to more situations where violence is more likely to be manifested and severely limiting her options for dealing with violence. The stress of living in over-crowded, poorly maintained housing and trying to supply the most basic needs of family members creates situations of enormous frustration and fear. Many individuals in our society, poor and wealthy, are inadequately prepared to deal with extreme stress in a non-violent manner. And, once violence has occurred, a woman in poverty has fewer options in escaping or healing from that violence. She cannot easily find safe alternative housing nor afford long term therapy.

Second, abused women may be kept in poverty because of the abuse. The research demonstrates that women were prevented from maintaining jobs or continuing education and training programs because of the abuse of partners who actively tried to prevent the woman from gaining economic independence. This suggests that any program seeking to empower women economically must take into consideration supports to enable her to continue in the program.

The stresses associated with poverty are increasing in San Francisco, making economic empowerment even more critical in dealing with violence. The recent economic boom in the San Francisco Bay Area has made it impossible for people in the lower economic strata to afford basic, acceptable housing. As rents increase, requiring even middle-income individuals to pay more than half their salaries towards housing, people are forced into over-crowded housing or out of familiar communities and into areas where their culture, religion, or sexual orientation may be less tolerated. As people are forced out of their communities to less expensive communities, they are separated from traditional or familiar systems of support exacerbating the problems they already face in seeking help.

These stresses are not limited to the unemployed. The working poor face the same insurmountable economic barriers yet have fewer government social supports to assist them in meeting basic needs. Additionally, they typically do not have flexible jobs allowing them to access services easily. Most work in highly structured and restrictive jobs while most services operate on a traditional workday schedule. Working poor, unlike the unemployed or higher level employees, do not have flexibility in schedules or the luxury of time off from work to access such services.

Middle and upper income women and girls also face obstacles in obtaining services. While middle and upper income women may seem to have more options in dealing with violence, they themselves do not necessarily perceive these options. For example, middle and upper income women often do not see themselves as potential clients of social service agencies. Such women may identify more with being on the board of directors or working as volunteers in such agencies. Thus, they are more likely to seek assistance in the private sector such as from their physician or from a therapist. Our research suggests that seeking assistance from the private sector such as from a physician or therapist is risky because of poor training in identifying and dealing appropriately with survivors of violence (see Inadequate Training of Private Sector Providers, page 98).

For middle and upper income women whose social identity is closely tied to their partner's economic status, the fear of losing that identity is often greater than the fear of the violence. The prospect of losing economic wellbeing is a strong deterrent to leaving a violent relationship. For a woman whose partner holds high social status within the community, speaking about the abuse is even more difficult for she is challenging the community's image of her partner. She fears not being believed, retaliation, and her own future economic and social wellbeing, which is so intimately tied to her abuser's wellbeing.

Additionally, although middle and upper income women may have a high joint income, the abusive partner may control financial resources such as by having assets only in his name. Thus, a woman may live in an expensive home and be a millionaire, but have neither car keys nor access to any bank accounts. Such financial control, a form of abuse in itself, affects a woman's options in dealing with the violence.

And, finally, as a society, we do not hold the wealthy accountable for their actions in the same way we do the poor. Our society has a long history of intervening in and probing into the lives of the poor. Their utilization of social support services requires them to submit to the scrutiny of outsiders who may look for and identify violence. Social institutions assume the right to intervene in the lives of those who lack financial power. The same is not true for the middle and upper economic strata. Notions of privacy and appropriate scrutiny into the lives of these families are much stricter. Their non-use of public and social support services means fewer occasions to be scrutinized. The people who may observe evidence of violence, such as doctors, private therapists, and teachers, may be reluctant or ill prepared to offer support or intervention. One private therapist specializing in violence suggested that even those providers who know of or suspect abuse are less likely to offer support to women in upper economic strata because of their shared socioeconomic status with the abuser. A corollary to this is the belief that women in upper economic strata and women with high educational levels should "know better" than to find themselves in an abusive relationship--an outgrowth of the assumption that the victim's actions cause the abusive behavior. As the private therapist stated, "These [wealthy] men are literally getting away with murder."

5.1.2 Education and Occupational Skills

Low educational attainment and a lack of occupational skills directly affect the options a woman has in dealing with violence, particularly domestic violence and violence experienced in risky occupations. Women who are financially dependent upon their abusers and/or who do not have the education or skills needed to earn a livable wage will have difficulty leaving the abusive relationship. Economic empowerment is vital to increasing a woman's options.

At the same time, immigrant women who work outside the home and contribute to the household economy through wages challenge traditional patriarchal values that define men by their role in the public sphere. These women often experience increased incidents of violence from husbands or other intimate partners who may be frustrated with their inability to obtain employment and/or who use violence as a way of asserting their power and control over their increasingly financially independent wives.

5.1.3 Substance Abuse

High rates of alcohol and/or other substance abuse are found in incidents of domestic violence, homicides, and emergency room visits. While substance abuse affects all populations, the homeless, mentally ill, and sex workers are particularly vulnerable.

The relationship between substance abuse and violence is complex. Substance abuse both contributes to and is a response to violence. People under the influence of alcohol or other drugs are less able to protect themselves from violence, are more vulnerable to situations of potential violence, and may react to situations violently. People who are experiencing violence may turn to substance abuse as a means of coping with that violence, exacerbating the barriers they already face in dealing with violence.

Current VAW services force women who are both being abused and using substances to disassociate what is an interrelated and complex problem. Most VAW services do not have the ability to address the needs of substance abusers. And substance abuse programs, while addressing violence, generally do not synthesize the role of violence in their clients' substance abuse and do not have integrated programs to prevent or intervene in cases of violence. Programs that are able to address the role of substance abuse in the experience of violence are needed.

These confounding variables have a direct impact upon a woman's exposure to violence, experience of violence, and options in dealing with that violence. In understanding the following priority populations it is important to consider how these confounding factors may affect a woman or girl in that population.

The following priority population descriptions summarize salient characteristics about the population that increase its members' vulnerability to violence and/or affect their ability to deal with violence. Existing services for these populations are identified. However, these are not comprehensive lists. Some agencies are missing either because they were not identified or we could not gather sufficient information about their services. Finally, barriers and recommendations that are particularly pertinent to each population are described.


By "sex workers," we mean women and girls engaged in both legal and illegal occupations such as prostitutes, strippers, professional dominants and submissives, phone sex operators, models, porn stars, and escorts. Sex workers, especially prostitutes, are both particularly vulnerable to violence and face significant barriers to accessing services.

For many sex workers, their jobs place them in frequent contact with potentially violent employers and clients. The stigma and illegality associated with some of these occupations also increases violence perpetrated by intolerant authorities such as police officers. Service providers and the women and girls themselves report life long, multiple incidents of extremely violent abuse including childhood sexual abuse, kidnapping, beatings, rape, torture, and domestic violence. Women report that they entered the sex industry to pay for drugs. For some, a lack of alternatives for economic support led them into sex work. And for others, sex work was a choice. As a highly stigmatized population, sex workers face prejudice and intolerance in accessing services and receiving assistance from service providers and authorities. For those in illegal occupations, their victimization and the circumstances that brought them into illegal activity are ignored in favor of criminalizing their behavior. There are few opportunities for women to leave sex work. For those who do leave, they must "....struggle with the stigma of their past, the challenges of developing a new identity, and the impact of their past on current intimate relationships."59

5.2.1 Services

Women in Dialogue/U.S. Prostitute Collective provides accompaniment, advocacy, case management, educational programs, legal assistance, and general lobbying efforts for women who work in the sex industry. These services are provided in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Vietnamese.

SAGE Project is a grassroots organization for women victimized by or at risk of sexual exploitation, violence, and prostitution. It provides case management, community outreach, peer and public education, mental health services for trauma, holistic and traditional healthcare, mentoring and job placement, incarcerated women's assistance, and support groups. In addition, they operate a Harm Reduction Program geared towards individuals who are still working in the sex trade. Its goals are to reduce risks such as hepatitis, HIV, and physical and emotional violence.

5.2.2 Barriers to Services

Stigma Associated with Sex Work: Sex work is highly stigmatized in this society. Sex workers are treated horrendously by authorities and some service providers. Women and girls who work in the sex industry may feel shame and embarrassment about their occupations. The prospect of having to reveal the circumstances in which violence has occurred and the nature of their work is a serious deterrent to seeking services. Many fear that friends, family and others will discover their work in the sex industry if they participate in violence related programs.

Treatment of Women as Victims: Sex workers often feel that they are being treated like "victims" and are considered "pathetic" by service providers. Women will often not seek services in an effort to preserve their dignity and pride.

Fear of Incarceration: The illegality of some sex work also increases the probability that women will not report incidents of violence and will not seek services. Often violence must be severe where women are placed in grave danger before they are willing to seek assistance.

Controlling Behavior by "Managers": Sex workers are under surveillance of managers who track their movements and activities. The ability for women and girls to utilize services unattended by managers is impeded by the fear that sex workers will reveal incriminating information about their work. This increases the difficulty women and girls face in accessing services.

Violence is not Taken Seriously: Authorities and service providers often do not take women and girls who report sex work-related violence seriously. While the incidents described are identified as violent, the prevailing sentiment is that these women "choose" to enter into a potentially dangerous occupation and as a result, are believed to be responsible for their predicaments. These attitudes often manifest in unsympathetic treatment and poor delivery of services. The police were reported as showing a lack of concern and in some cases, contempt towards and abuse of sex workers who reported violence.

Hopelessness: Service providers reported that a significant proportion of their clients who work in the sex industry have past histories of abuse most commonly levied by husbands, boyfriends and other intimate partners. The history of past abuse contributes to a sense of hopelessness in the minds of many sex workers in which alternatives to violence are no longer easy to perceive.

Fear of loss of income: Many sex workers will not seek services out of fear that they will lose their ability to earn an income. They do not have viable alternatives for employment.

5.2.3 Recommendations

Increase Programs Targeted to Sex Workers: Currently, there are few programs that are able to offer programs specifically for women and girls in the sex industry. A major barrier to services is the fear of stigmatization and that staff will not be sympathetic to or educated about the particular contexts in which violence occurs among sex workers. The development of programs for sex workers is necessary to address these fears and to provide an environment in which women and girls feel comfortable. Programs including peers are particularly valuable.

Develop Tolerance Education Programs for Police: Due to the shame and, in some cases, illegality of sex work, the police act as a serious barrier to services for sex workers. In addition to the fear of incarceration, women have reported being harassed by the police when attempting to report incidents of violence. An educational campaign that attempts to educate the police about the seriousness of violence in the lives of sex workers is vital. In addition, the police department must discipline officers who commit violence. It is inexcusable that authorities are not held accountable for violence, too.

Promote Training of Service Providers: VAW service providers need training on the specific needs and appropriate means of assisting sex workers who have experienced violence.

Promote Job Training and Education Programs: Sex workers need job training and education programs to expand their economic options.

Expand Emergency Shelter and Safe Housing: There is not sufficient emergency shelter or safe housing within the city of San Francisco. Sex workers need safe, accepting emergency shelter to escape violence.


The majority of sexual assault survivors who seek services are over the age of 18 and overwhelmingly women. According to statistics from the San Francisco Rape Treatment Center, 49% of their clientele were white, 26% were African American, and 12% were Latino. Assailants were predominantly current or former sexual partners.60

5.3.1 Services

SFWAR maintains a 24 hour crisis hotline and provides self-defense instruction, medical and legal advocacy and in-person short-term counseling.

Rape Treatment Center at San Francisco General Hospital is a program managed by the Department of Public Health. The Center provides medical treatment and counseling and engages in evidence collection.

Women's Safety Project does not have a specific program for sexual assault survivors, however, a significant proportion of their clients report having been assaulted.

Glide Foundation (Glide Memorial Church) provides support groups for survivors of sexual violence.

Westside Community Mental Health Center provides in person crisis counseling for survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence.

Woman's Place provides shelter with beds reserved for women who report having been raped.

Victim/Witness Assistance Program provides advocacy with criminal court proceedings, victim compensation, crisis intervention, emergency assistance, and assistance in filing for compensation from the State Board of Control's Victims of Crime Program. In addition, the Program assists clients with obtaining financial support and job retraining.

The Rape Prevention Education Program of the UCSF Center for Gender Equity offers support groups for survivors.

SAGE provides gender specific mental health services for mental and physical trauma, peer support groups, and satellite sexual trauma counseling.

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) is a statewide coalition supporting women prisoners. It advocates for women who have experienced sexual assault by guards and for women imprisoned for defending themselves against their abusers.

5.3.2 Barriers to Services

Lack of Understanding of the Criminal Justice System: Women who have experienced sexual assault are often not acquainted with the process by which sexual assault crimes are handled. The fear of the possibility of having to face perpetrators, of having to relive the sexual assault through self-testimony, of having nothing done to pursue perpetrators, or of perpetrators being allowed to go unpunished contribute to incidents going unreported and survivors not seeking services. This barrier is particularly significant for women who are undocumented and/or newcomers to the United States.

Inability to Accept Incident as Sexual Assault: It is not uncommon for survivors to be unwilling to identify incidents of violence as sexual assault. Service providers reported that women often will not identify their experiences as rape, particularly if the violence occurred in a dating situation or with an acquaintance or known intimate. Denial is a serious challenge in providing services to women in need.

Lack of Support by Survivor's Social Network, Community, and/or Religious Institution to Seek Help: Survivors are often blamed by their communities for having been victims of sexual assault. Women are believed to have brought on attacks in their behavior or lack of caution. Family, friends, and/or community members who discourage women from talking about their violent experiences further exacerbate the shame associated with sexual assault. In addition, religious sexual taboos can add to the shame experienced by survivors of sexual assault. Religious institutions have encouraged keeping silent about sexual violence.

5.3.3 Recommendations

Need for Outreach to Homeless Women: Sexual violence is a major problem confronting homeless women. While the San Francisco Rape Treatment Center reported that 18% of their clients were homeless, service providers believed that this reflected a small percentage of homeless women in need of services.

Need for Ongoing Therapy and Counseling Programs: Survivors of rape, and often of rape attempts, usually manifest some elements of what has come to be called Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS), a form of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The effects of RTS often last for years or decades, and can be life-long. Apart from a small number of therapists and counselors specializing in sexual assault cases, few psychotherapists are familiar with the literature on RTS. For this reason, a rape survivor is usually well advised to consult with a rape crisis center or someone knowledgeable in this area rather than relying on general counseling resources. The same applies to those close to a rape victim, such as a lover or parent; these people are termed "secondary victims" by rape crisis counselors.

Develop Awareness Programs for Women who Experience Sexual Assault Perpetrated by other Women and for LBT Women: Women who survive sexual assault from other women are often met with disbelief from others. Their experiences are minimized and believed to be as less traumatic than if the perpetrator was a man. In addition, there is a strong belief within LBT communities that same sex violence does not occur, which increases the difficulty of women survivors of same-sex sexual assault to discuss their experiences and seek help. These women are often seen as betraying their communities and run the risk of isolation if assistance is sought.

Improvement of Existing Services: Clients indicated that current services do not adequately address their needs. Currently there is a severe shortage of nurse practitioners that handle sexual assault cases in hospital emergency rooms. Due to the shortage, sexual assault survivors are forced to wait long periods to be seen. In addition, there is a need for more case managers as well as greater outreach to various communities. There needs to be a greater effort to contact sexual assault survivors beyond the emergency rooms. Home visits have been suggested as an alternative to the hospital setting, however, this will increase current demands on qualified staffing. Clients also reported a need for additional sensitivity training of crisis line workers.

Expansion of Current Self-Defense Programs: There was a significant call for programs that empower women sexual assault survivors. Free and low-cost self-defense programs should be expanded to reach a greater number of women and should be publicized in all of San Francisco's diverse communities.


In 1999 the Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Resource Center (CASARC) had 431 cases of sexual assault involving individuals under the age of 19 years. Populations that are at particular risk are the undocumented, children in foster care, runaways, the developmentally and physically disabled, adolescents not attending school, homeless youth and those living in informal and unstable living arrangements.

5.4.1 Services

Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Resource Center (CASARC) provides a broad range of services for children and adolescents reporting sexual assault.

UCSF/Mt. Zion's Violence Prevention Project provides counseling for children who have experienced or witnessed violence, including sexual assault, through it's Pathway Project.

5.4.2 Barriers to Services

Fear of Repercussions and/or Retaliation: Service providers reported that children and adolescents are reluctant to report incidents of sexual assault for fear of negative repercussions such as the removal of family members, placement into foster care, disbelief that incidents occurred, revelation by friends and family that assault occurred and/or that the survivor has been sexually active, and retaliation by the perpetrator or others including gangs.

Lack of Access to Existing Services: Youth survivors of sexual assault reported that they were unable to access services due to a lack of transportation. This was also problematic for the physically disabled as well as the developmentally disabled. In the case of the latter, transportation presented a serious problem when the caretaker was the perpetrator of the violence. In addition, clients' inability to take off time from work and school resulted in a lack of service provision. Service providers confirmed this, stating that much of their time is being spent on re-scheduling missed appointments.

5.4.3 Recommendations

Expansion of After School Programs for Girls: Programs that provide a safe place for girls and a venue to disseminate information on services for sexual assault survivors is critical to the prevention of sexual assault. Girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault when out of school and not under the supervision of parents. After school programs cover this period of vulnerability.

Development of Public Awareness Program for Parents and Youth: To minimize the fears youth survivors of sexual assault may have about the process of reporting incidents of violence and seeking services, a public education program is needed. In addition, parents, educators, and caretakers should be educated on sexual assault on children and be informed of existing services.

Development of an Escort System for Youth Survivors of Sexual Assault: Children and adolescents who wish to seek services should be able to call a central hotline number and be escorted to available services.

Development of Self-Defense Classes for Girls: As with adult women, girls need training and guidance in assertiveness and self defense. Self Defense courses were suggested as an important means of encouraging confidence and teaching girls how to protect themselves.


Homelessness is one of the most significant problems facing San Francisco. In addition to those already homeless, many people are on the verge of homelessness because of a shortage of affordable housing and an increase in poverty. Homelessness is associated with increased exposure to violence and victimization, especially sexual assault. Additionally, domestic violence is one of the significant causes of homelessness for families.

5.5.1 Services

There is a very serious lack of VAW programming directed at homeless women. Such programming must be holistic and address the needs of the women both as survivors of violence and as homeless.

Arriba Juntos, a project of Proyecto Apoyo, works with immigrant women and women of color who are homeless or at risk of homelessness because of domestic violence. They receive counseling, job training, employment and support services with the goal of becoming economically self-sufficient.

5.5.2 Barriers

Fear of Reporting Violence to Police: Due to the increasing criminalization of homelessness, homeless women are reluctant to report violence. Women who have been abused are afraid that further harassment and abuse by police officers will occur if they attempt to report violence.

Inability to Stay in Programs: Providing violence prevention and intervention services to the homeless is extremely difficult because of the precarious circumstances in which they live and the difficulty they have in continuing with services. It is extremely difficult for a homeless person to predict the future and plan accordingly. Thus, staying in and completing programs is difficult.

Hopelessness: Homeless women and girls, in the struggle to obtain basic necessities of life, are not able to place a priority on dealing with violence. One service provider of mostly homeless, mentally ill clients describes violence in this population as "normalized" indicating that these women and girls have a sense of hopelessness about dealing with violence. Clients freely discuss the violence they experience, however, it is a regular feature of their everyday lives and they do not perceive options out of the violence. They are not likely to access any services for violence, except for physical violence requiring medical treatment. In such cases, the woman would go to an emergency room where she will not receive assistance in preventing future violence or in healing from past violence.

5.5.3 Recommendations

Increase Collaboration Between VAW Services and Homeless Shelters: Existing VAW services should engage in outreach to homeless shelters to encourage participation of women and children in both crisis intervention and prevention programs. In addition, VAW service providers should develop educational workshops for service providers for the homeless to improve the identification of women and girls who may have experienced violence and to increase awareness of current VAW services and appropriate referrals for potential clients.

Advocate Decriminalization of Homelessness: The criminalization of homelessness impedes a homeless person's ability to deal with homelessness and its attendant problems including violence.

Increase Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing Programs: Many women and their children face a choice of remaining in a violent relationship or becoming homeless. Increased housing options that are affordable and safe must be developed to allow a woman to leave abuse without becoming homeless.


The term "disabled" encompasses a broad range of people in a variety of circumstances. By disabled, we mean any individual who is in some way limited in activity because of impairment. Thus, women and girls with sensory impairments (e.g., blindness, deafness), chronic disease (e.g. AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and mental illnesses), developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and mobility impairments are all included within this population. While disabled women and girls embody diverse histories and experiences, there are common obstacles all people with disabilities face enabling us to note common patterns of vulnerability to violence and barriers to obtaining services.

Although there is a perception in our society that the disabled are treated benevolently because of their disabilities, in actuality, limited studies indicate that they are equally or more vulnerable to abuse. There are few studies on violence against the disabled and most are dated. The Center for Research on Women with Disabilities conducted a nation-wide survey of both physically disabled and non-disabled women and found that the prevalence for emotional, physical, and sexual abuse was the same for disabled and non-disabled women. However, women with disabilities were significantly more likely to experience abuse from caretakers, including health care workers.61

The disabled are often infantilized. Disabilities create in people's minds the need to treat the disabled person paternalistically such as making decisions for the individual or preventing her from making normal life course advances towards independence. While this is not typically cited in definitions of violence, it is clearly a form of violence in its control over an individual.

The disabled are also particularly vulnerable to confounding factors described earlier, particularly poverty and, for the mentally ill, homelessness. More than 70% of disabled people are unemployed.62 And 30-40% of homeless individuals in San Francisco are estimated to have a mental illness.63 Thus, these multiple issues compound the difficulties women face in accessing services.

5.6.1 Services

There are no violence specific services for disabled women. There are several agencies addressing the needs of people with disabilities, which encounter women and girls who have experienced violence.

Independent Living Resource Center is a peer-based organization operated by people with disabilities and addressing the needs of all disabled people. They provide advocacy, information and referral, and assistance to people with disabilities. They concentrate on facilitating the desires of their clients rather than defining their clients needs.

5.6.2 Barriers to Services

Lack of Access to Services: Some agencies or services are simply inaccessible to women with mobility impairments, mental illness, or to the deaf. Of the three shelters, only one is truly wheelchair accessible. Although two shelters are theoretically accessible, one (La Casa de las Madres) is not accessible to larger wheelchairs such as electric wheelchairs. Not all agencies have easy or quick access to deaf interpretation services or TDD/TTY telephone communication allowing deaf individuals to contact them by telephone. And low functioning women, such as those with untreated or poorly treated mental illness, simply have a difficult time getting places, keeping schedules, and staying in services.

No Appropriate Services: There are no services or intervention protocols specifically targeted to disabled women. While violence-specific agencies have services targeted at some vulnerable populations, they do not target the disabled to ensure that outreach is directed to them and that the agency itself has training and a protocol in dealing with the disabled. For example, it is important for service providers to be familiar with and sensitive to deaf culture in dealing with deaf clients, but no violence-specific agencies have a dedicated program to reach the deaf community and accommodate deaf clients.

For low functioning women, such as those with untreated mental illness, or for women who need daily assistance with self care or medications, there are no violence against women specific services such as shelters or group counseling. Agencies that deal specifically with such populations, but do not provide VAW services, make every attempt to get women in violent situations into residential treatment programs where they will be out of the violent situation. However, these programs are not designed to deal specifically with violence, but rather with other problems such as substance abuse. Additionally, women may be placed in mental health housing, but these are not safe houses.64

Standard crisis intervention protocols that call for the woman to plan and prepare herself for an escape if necessary are not feasible for many disabled women. A woman dependent upon the abuser for daily living tasks such as mobility, eating, and dressing, simply cannot perform the tasks necessary to plot out and actually escape the violence.

Hopelessness: For many women and girls, they simply can not imagine their lives could be any different. They have given up hope, see no alternatives to their present situation, or the alternatives they identify are more frightening. One service provider provided the example of an East European refugee diagnosed with major PTSD and major depression. She was raped both in her native country and the United States and is in a relationship with an undocumented immigrant who batters her. The agency has struggled to get her out of the relationship, but she does not want to leave because he represents the only family she has left. The alternatives are inconceivable to her.

Violence not Defined or Identified: Violence in this population is often not identified and, when it is, it is commonly defined as a "disability" issue rather than a "violence" issue. Interviews with disability service providers and research65 suggest that disabled women rarely receive services from violence-specific agencies. Thus, if intervention and assistance is to occur it is most likely to occur through a disability specific agency.

5.6.3 Recommendations

Self-Defense Workshops: Free and low-cost self-defense workshops should be specifically geared towards the disabled, teaching them how to protect themselves and their interests.

Education Programs for Caretakers and Families: Violence may occur in families of the disabled because of frustrations and ignorance about the capabilities and motivations of the disabled, particularly the mentally ill. Violence can be prevented by educating caretakers and families on understanding and dealing with the specific needs of disabled individuals.

Education of Disability and Violence Service Providers: Disability service providers need to be trained in how to identify violence and in where to seek violence services for their clients. Violence specific service providers need to be educated about how to identify and provide for the needs of disabled clients. Collaboration between both types of agencies should be encouraged to develop an integrated service benefiting from their respective expertise.


The usual definition of "elder abuse" includes physical abuse and neglect, psychological abuse and neglect, financial abuse (through theft or misuse of property), and violation of personal rights. As is the case in other types of violence against women, crimes against the elderly are unlikely to elicit police action when the offense is committed by someone related to the victim. In one study, it was found that few of the cases were referred to the police, although several involved life-threatening actions or the loss of considerable sums of money or property.66

Victims tend to be living with adult children or other informal caretakers who become neglectful or abusive when the burdens of providing care for a frail, elderly person interact with stress, inadequate preparation, medical problems of the caretaker, alcohol abuse, financial difficulties, and other situational factors.67

5.7.1 Services

There are no VAW programs specifically for elderly women. Service providers at organizations that offer other health and social services to the elderly report that elder abuse is a serious problem among their clientele, however, referrals were difficult to make because of a lack of services. The following are the three largest organizations catering to the elderly in San Francisco.

Nihonmachi Legal Outreach provides services for Asian and Pacific Islander elders who are experiencing physical and financial abuse. This includes educational programs for families and community groups and court actions for protective orders.

Goldman Institute for Aging provides programs in care management, health education, long term care, mental health, rehabilitation, and assistance with the disabled. While the organization does not offer a specific program on violence, these issues are broached by women who participate in on-going support groups and counseling at the Institute. The agency also runs the Consortium for Elder Abuse Prevention. The agency serves a variety of populations including Russian, Chinese, and African Americans.

North of Market Services provides medical assistance to senior citizens 60 years and older. They provide a full array of referral services including legal assistance, money management, nutritional assessment and adult program placement. The client population is primarily Southeast Asian, Filipino, Anglo, African American and Russian. The agency has interpretative capabilities in Vietnamese, Laotian, Cantonese, Tagalog, and Russian. A significant portion of the client population includes homeless women.

Legal Assistance to the Elderly provides free legal advice and representation to San Francisco residents over 60 years of age. It assists in avoiding financial and physical abuse.

5.7.2 Barriers to Services

Older Women Seen as Lost Cause: Battered older women are silenced by ageist assumptions that they are too resistant to change or are made invisible by the notion that very frail elders are the only victims of elder abuse.68 Women who have been living with violence for most of their lives may be aware that services exist, but feel that they are not intended for them. Prevention programs often discount the elderly by emphasizing prevention programs for younger women and girls.

Fear of Institutionalization: Older women will often deny being abused out of fear that family members and/or health personnel will recommend that they be institutionalized. The prevailing sentiment is that living with continued abuse is more favorable than being taken away from one's social network and familiar environment. When the perpetrators of violence are caretakers entrusted by families to attend to elderly relatives, older women believe that their families will have little alternative than to institutionalize them.

5.7.3 Recommendations

Develop Education Programs to Alleviate Fears of Losing Autonomy: Intervention depends on detection, which is difficult when victims often cannot or do not report abuse. Intervention is also impeded by self-blame and the fear of institutionalization. Intervention should respect autonomy and allow survivors to make as many decisions as possible.69 Older women would benefit from programs that focused on notions of empowerment in accessing services for violence and information on services that would not lead to institutionalization.

Expand Programs Educating Family Members on How to Detect Caretaker Abuse: Most family members have little training in recognizing signs that may indicate their elderly relative is being abused by a caretaker. Programs are needed to educate family members to detect early signs of abuse and to promote communication within the family regarding violence.

Develop Educational Programs on the Aging Process for Agencies Providing Violence against Women Services: VAW agencies would benefit from staff training on the aging process including physical and cognitive deficits and fears associated with becoming older and more dependent on others.

Target Outreach to Older Women: The dominant orientation of existing programs is on youth and younger and middle aged women. Service providers and many elderly women themselves believed that they were "lost causes" with little hope of getting out of a violent situation. Elder abuse was also rarely mentioned by service providers and is often treated as a separate category of violence that is beyond the scope of current services. In addition, elderly women expressed fear that reporting incidents of violence by family members, caretakers, and others would result in a loss of autonomy and/or institutionalization. In the development of programs, providers should work with family members in order to allay fears of abandonment. In addition, service providers must consider that many elderly women are often limited in their ability to attend programs at service agencies due to declining mobility and health status. Programs for women who are housebound, therefore, should be developed.


Young women and girls are extremely vulnerable both to victimization and to facing barriers in receiving help for violence. In discussing violence among youth, greater focus has been placed on youth as offenders rather than youth as victims or survivors.

Young women and girls, because of their age, are more vulnerable to violence. They may lack the experience and skills necessary for defending themselves and for recognizing potentially dangerous situations or abusive relationships. And because of these vulnerabilities, they may be targeted for violence, particularly sexual assault. They may be less likely to recognize more subtle forms of violence such as verbal and emotional abuse or sexual harassment as violence. For youth who do not have the social supports traditionally provided by family, vulnerability is increased dramatically. They lack an obvious source of assistance and guidance including role models of healthy relationships.

Violence prevention and intervention among our young is probably the most important tool in reducing violence. We have a responsibility to protect all citizens, but particularly our young. Youth who have experienced violence are more likely to grow up to be abusers and to continue to experience abuse throughout life. Thus, prevention and intervention must address boys and young men as well.

5.8.1 Services

Nihonmachi Legal Outreach has initiated a collaborative program with Narika, a VAW service agency serving South Asians in the East Bay, to provide workshops, media and internet activities to educate young men and women about violence and to foster non-violent interpersonal relationships.

Family Service Agency of San Francisco runs the Adolescents Seeking Paths Toward Independence, Responsibility, and Empowerment (ASPIRE) program for siblings of pregnant or parenting teens receiving Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Project services. Youth 11-17 years old are eligible for support with accessing health care, school issues, relationships, accessing job training, and legal issues.

Legal Services for Children, Inc. is a free, comprehensive law office for children and youth, up to 17 years of age, providing legal and social services. Services include restraining orders, victim support, emancipation, guardianship, mental health services, child abuse services, school discipline, special education, and delinquency.Legal Services for Youth provides free legal assistance for youth including restraining orders, victim support, custody, paternity, and emancipation. Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog are spoken.

Students Talking about Non-Violent Dating, a project of SFWAR, trains teens to be peer educators on dating violence, sexual assault, and domestic violence. They also lead workshops that teach sex education as rape prevention to girls.

Mission Girls-Proyecto Adelante offers after-school prevention workshops on rape, sexual assault, date rape, statutory rape, and battering in English and Spanish.

Chinatown Youth Center's Young Asian Women Against Violence Program produces violence prevention materials for Asian girls and facilitates violence education workshops.

Sisters Working in Community (SWIC) is a collaboration between SAGE Project, ManAlive Education and Research Institute, and Women and Children Family Services to expand prevention and education to women and girls at risk for experiencing intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) provides teen dating violence prevention education at schools and weekly workshops for incarcerated youth.

Young Woman Arise Project is a collaboration between Horizons Unlimited, Westside Community Mental Health Center, New Generation Health Center, and Youth Guidance Center. The program focuses on self-esteem/self-concept development for young African American and Latina women and includes a component, Females Against Violence (FAV), which is a peer education project focusing on domestic violence and sexual assault.

Westside Community Mental Health Center in the Western Addition has a Youth Awareness Program (YAP) which includes training on anger management, communication and social skills development, and parenting issues.

Omega Boys Club works with both young men and women 14-21 years old who are at risk for violence. Their Street Soldiers Violence Prevention Program provides information and referrals; workshops and presentations for community agencies, schools and other organizations; presentations to inmates in correctional institutions; and training workshops for agency staff.

Women Overcoming Violence Everywhere: Empowered, Trained and Capable (WAVE, ETC), a project of Bayview Hunter's Point Foundation, is domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and education project. The project targets culturally appropriate peer violence prevention education to schools and mothers at home through fact sheets and educational literature.

Violence is Preventable (VIP) Girls Project assists young women at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence by giving them access to a referral network. Services include counseling, case management, mentoring, family mediation, employment, peer education, and the production and distribution of a brochure on sexual violence in the African American community.

Girl's After School Academy (GASA) is a comprehensive program that serves girls 8-18 years old living in San Francisco's largest public housing development, Sunnydale, and the greater Visitacion Valley. It focuses on gangs, violence, and pregnancy prevention and academic enhancement.

Girls Take Charge, a program of the Women's Safety Project, provides three years of after school self-defense instruction and information on accessing resources to middle and high school aged girls at three community locations (Visitacion Valley, Sunset, and Richmond).

Teen Crisis Line is a 24-hour crisis line for youth dealing with abusive situations. English and Spanish are available.

United Players is a gang prevention program at Balboa High School open to any interested youth, gang member or not, which organizes group activities as alternatives to gang-banging.

Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Resource Center (CASARC) provides a broad range of services for children and adolescents reporting sexual assault.

UCSF/Mt. Zion Violence Prevention Project's Pathways program provides counseling for children who have experienced or witnessed violence.

5.8.2 Barriers to Services

Do not Identify with Services: For most youth, the family is the locus of support and guidance. When the family is the source of violence or when the family lacks the ability to provide support, the youth often does not know where to seek help. Getting assistance from social service agencies is not necessarily a familiar experience for youth.

Fear of Repercussions and/or Retaliation: Service providers reported that children and adolescents are reluctant to report incidents of family violence for fear of negative repercussions such as the removal of family members, being kicked out of the family, placement into foster care, disbelief that the incidents occurred, or retaliation by the perpetrator or others including gangs.

Lack of Access to Existing Services: Youth survivors of violence reported that they were unable to access services due to a lack of transportation or a lack of programming directed towards youth survivors. Obtaining social services tends to be a difficult process requiring numerous attempted contacts and accessing several different agencies to acquire all the support services one needs. This is a difficult process for anyone, but is particularly disheartening to youth that may not have mastered the skills and perseverance necessary to wade through complicated bureaucracies.

5.8.3 Recommendations

Promote Outreach to Youth in all Populations: Outreach should be targeted to youth to educate about them about alternative sources of support for violence. This outreach must be both youth oriented and population-specific oriented. Thus, outreach approaches will vary for populations such as immigrant youth, Native American youth, Latina youth and so on.

Promote After School Programs for Girls and Boys: Programs that provide a safe place for youth after school are critical to the prevention of violence. Youth are more susceptible to violence when they are without supervision and positive role models.

Promote Mandatory Early Childhood Violence Prevention and Intervention Education: COSW, VAW service providers, and CBOs should take a leadership role in lobbying for mandatory early childhood anti-violence education programs analogous to sex education. Such programs should begin in the first year of primary school and continue through the last year of high school. Education efforts should cover appropriate and respectful behavior, identifying violence, anger management skills, conflict resolution, self-defense skills, safe dating skills, and where to seek help in cases of violence. Mandatory education would serve both to prevent violence and as outreach to youth, who do not know where to seek assistance. As experts in violence prevention and intervention, service providers should also be encouraged and funded to develop appropriate curriculum guidelines and teacher training guidelines for implementing such a curriculum.

Develop a Public Awareness Program for Parents, Educators, and Caretakers: In order to improve the awareness among parents, educators, and caretakers, a public campaign educating these adults on the prevalence of violence among youth and the services available to youth and families should be established. This campaign should include a program on prevention and encourage adults to discuss violence with youth and to establish communication pathways in case violence should occur.


In defining this population, we include lesbian, bisexual, and transgender70 (LBT) women and girls because of the common barriers they face as sexual and gender minorities. While this study is specifically about women and girls, in discussing this population it is impossible not to mention violence against gay men. Many of the statistics and reports that are available include gay male survivors of violence.

Same-sex relationships are estimated to have the same risk of violence as opposite-sex relationships. The prevalence of domestic violence in gay and lesbian relationships is approximately 25% to 33%.71 LBT women and girls face one facet of abuse, though, that straight women do not, the threat of being "outed" (having one's sexual orientation revealed) and of losing family support because of one's sexuality or gender identification. For example, a Korean bisexual woman, whose husband is physically and emotionally abusive, reported that she had decided to divorce her husband and initially received the support of her mother. However, to keep her from divorcing, her husband "outed" her to her mother knowing her mother would not be able to accept her sexuality. After discovering her daughter's sexuality, the mother withdrew her support for the divorce and threatened to disown her daughter and commit suicide should her daughter divorce. The woman's strong sense of filial obligation, a desire not to shame her family because of her sexuality, and the threat of losing her family has kept her in the abusive marriage.

As members of a highly stigmatized population, GLBT women and men are particularly vulnerable to hate violence. While the San Francisco Bay Area has a reputation for tolerance towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) communities, the violence experienced by GLBT individuals demonstrates the continued existence of prejudice and intolerance. While the number of assaults on GLBT men and women in San Francisco declined slightly in 1999 as reported to the Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the number of severe, injury-causing assaults rose by 20%. Hate violence tends to be more brutal and directed towards destroying the individual's emotional self than other forms of violence such as muggings where the goal is financial gain.72

LBT individuals are also more vulnerable to suffering abuses committed by intolerant authorities. Although the San Francisco Police Department is hailed as one of the best in the nation for documenting anti-GLBT violence and showing courtesy and respect to survivors, police or security personnel perpetrated nearly half of reported cases of violence against transgender people. Additionally, the police subjected 10% of survivors reporting any anti-GLBT violence to them to further violence.73 CUAV has documented narratives of survivors, which demonstrate the vulnerability of individuals confronted by violent authorities:

Sinead is walking through the Tenderloin on her way to see a friend. A San Francisco police car pulls up, two officers get out and barrage Sinead with a series of anti-transgender questions: "What is your real name? Are you a prostitute? Do you have a penis or vagina? Are you a dude?" Sinead shows them her CA driver's license, which lists her gender as female, but they disregard it. "You're a fucking guy!" She is arrested for prostitution, and shoved up against a brick wall. One of the officers performs a body search, telling Sinead, AI can do whatever I want with you." During the search his hands linger on various parts of her body. The prostitution charges were later dropped.74

5.9.1 Services

There are 5 GLBT-specific services or agencies available to GLBT individuals experiencing violence. The first two agencies are devoted exclusively to GLBT communities, while the latter three are programs within larger agencies. Many agencies work with LBT women but do not have dedicated projects for outreach or assistance to LBT women.

Community United Against Violence (CUAV) works to end violence against and within GLBT communities. They provide hate violence and domestic violence programs including advocacy for survivors, counseling, emergency housing, and a 24-hour crisis line. They also have a sexual assault program, police violence prevention program, women-of-color and youth violence prevention program, and a speaker's bureau to educate the community and prevent violence. CUAV is unique in that it deals with all forms of violence.

Network for Battered Lesbian and Bisexual Women is a small grass-roots collective organization providing counseling, educational workshops, support groups, referrals, and advocacy for women who have been abused by female partners.

Queer Asian Women Services is a service of the Asian Women's Shelter providing counseling and other support services for LBT Asian women.

Queer Violence Prevention and Education Project is a project of Bay Area Legal Aid providing education, training and outreach to other violence against women service providers, community based organizations, the legal community, police, and governmental agencies about violence in GLBT communities. This project does not have a direct services component.

Woman-To-Woman Domestic Violence Program of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. provides a 24 hour crisis line, support groups, walk-in and ongoing counseling, assistance in getting restraining orders, referrals, education for advocates of LBT women, consultation and training for shelters and service providers, and technical assistance.

5.9.2 Barriers to Services

Pervasiveness of Homophobia and Transphobia: Members of the LBT community experience assaults upon their identity on a daily basis. Whether these assaults are direct, such as being called "dyke," or indirect, such as through the casual remarks of others, messages in the popular media or legislative attempts to curb civil rights, they create an environment in which intolerance and disrespect are, at some level, expected. While racist epitaphs and sentiments have become taboo in the popular media in this country, homophobic and transphobic remarks are still sanctioned. These assaults are so common and expected that few women and girls even think to report such incidents. In conversations with LBT women and girls, it is common for incidents of hate violence, especially verbal assaults, to be minimized, "brushed off," or not identified as violence.

Do not Define their Experiences as Violence: As is true in any marginalized community, LBT communities struggle to accept that violence can and does happen between women. Violence is often perceived as being perpetrated only by males, making it difficult for survivors to identify their experiences as violence. A service provider reported that women tended to minimize their experiences, even in cases of severe physical abuse. One survivor stated that she felt her experiences of physical and emotional abuse were trivial compared to the experiences of the straight women in her support group, so she stopped attending the support group. This woman had sustained serious physical injuries from her partner requiring emergency medical treatment.

Do not Identify with Available Services: While there are 5 GLBT-specific services and agencies available, LBT women and girls do not necessarily identify with VAW services in general. Discussions about services and literature advertising services still emphasize male upon female violence, although agencies in San Francisco do report that they try to make their discussions with clients and their promotions of services gender neutral. And even though there are GLBT-specific services available, LBT women and girls must still access services that are not GLBT-specific such as group counseling sessions and shelters where they may feel uncomfortable and isolated being the only LBT individual. One Native American woman reported tremendous intimidation and fear about joining a three-day survivor's retreat as the only lesbian and woman-of-color. However, she persevered and was pleasantly surprised to find herself welcomed and her experiences validated by the group. Thus, while general services may be open and accepting to LBT women, the LBT woman has no way of knowing this ahead of time and takes a risk in seeking such services.

In addition, some LBT women, particularly women-of-color, reported they do not relate to the predominant feminist service provider model of domestic violence with its emphasis on the "cycle of violence" and a sharp dichotomy between the "batterer" and the "survivor." LBT women and women-of-color identify with their batterer as a fellow "queer"75 woman and/or woman-of-color facing the same homophobic and racist society. The survivor often wants to stay with the batterer and recognizes the roots of the batterer's violent behavior in the abuse she survived in a homophobic and racist society. The survivor's identity as a queer woman and a woman-of-color is validated by her relationship making it difficult for the survivor to go outside of her community for help. She may feel she is betraying her community and her own identity in doing so.

Fear of Being "Outed": Women who are not open to family, friends, employers, or the general public about their sexual orientation risk divulging this information when they seek help for violence. Their fear of being "outed" may be greater than their fear of the violence, preventing them from seeking services. Service providers reported that they sometimes suspect some of their clients may be in an abusive same-sex relationship, but are pretending to be in an opposite-sex relationship to avoid revealing their sexual orientation. Thus, although agencies may make every effort to be inclusive, have LBT-specific services, and have LBT women on staff, some LBT women may still be uncomfortable acknowledging their sexual orientation.

Violence not Believed or Taken Seriously: Authorities, friends, and family members do not always take hate violence or violence between intimate partners of the same sex seriously. Some people find it difficult to acknowledge that women have the capacity to be violent and, therefore, do not believe the survivor's reports. Same-sex violence is often mistakenly perceived as "mutual battering" where both partners are believed to have equal power and control. One woman interviewed described a lack of support from family and therapists during her attempts to deal with her extremely abusive partner. She associated this with a lack of seriousness given to same-sex relationships in general. Police, security officers, and other authorities such as public transportation officials were also reported as minimizing or ignoring reports of violence made by LBT individuals.

5.9.3 Recommendations

Promote GLBT Community Responses to Violence: LBT women are more likely to access services that come from within their communities. Such services circumvent many of the barriers and fears women face in seeking services based on a service provider model of violence that is alien to the LBT woman's experience and identity. Community responses might include, for example, the establishment of discussion groups where relationship violence may be discussed without the attendees having to take on the threatening identity of "victim" or "survivor." These discussion groups may be sponsored by community based organizations. Collaborations with established and experienced violence-specific agencies should be encouraged in developing and implementing community-based responses.

Support an LBT Shelter: Although, in general, we discourage promoting population-specific shelters, the LBT community may benefit from a shelter specifically for women who have experienced violence from other women. This would resolve many of the fears and conflicts LBT women may face in receiving services from straight-dominated projects. It would also serve to validate the woman's identity, keeping her within her community.

Educate Service Providers about LBT Needs: As one interviewee stated, "Queer women don't feel safe." If service providers can make it known to LBT women that they are safe seeking services from their agency, LBT women will be more likely to seek those services. Service providers, therefore, need to be educated on the needs of LBT women and how to promote an agency environment where LBT women will feel safe. Asian Women's Shelter may serve as a model for other agencies in this regard. Every service of the agency addresses the needs of queer women, so that queer services are not a token, stand-alone service, but an integral part of all services. They conduct homophobia workshops for staff and have a "homophobia busters" team comprised of straight women on the staff who take on the responsibility of teaching other straight staff about homophobia and ending it.

Promote Education and Outreach: Community outreach and education directed specifically to the GLBT communities should be promoted. Messages need to include how to identify all forms of violence, that violence occurs in GLBT relationships, what a person's legal rights are in dealing with violence, where to report hate violence, and where to seek help for all forms of violence.

Promote Education and Sensitivity Training of Authorities: Programs must be developed to educate authority figures such as police officers, security guards, teachers, and employers about sexual orientation and gender identity and the fair and equitable treatment of all people. Additionally, police officers must be held accountable for their own acts of violence.


Immigrants make up a large proportion of the population in San Francisco. While the largest numbers of immigrants originate from Asia and Latin America, the immigrant population in the city represents a broad range of societies that contribute to a diversity of experiences, perspectives, beliefs and practices. However, there are several factors that immigrant women and girls experience in common that impede their ability to seek and access violence related services and that contribute to their needs for specific programs. In understanding immigrant needs, we examined the experiences of Chinese, Southeast Asian, Latina, Pacific Islander, African, Russian, Arab, and South Asian recent immigrants.

For a significant number of recent immigrants to San Francisco, immigration may involve movement from a largely agrarian or recently industrialized society into a densely populated, metropolis governed by an economy that rewards specialized, technologically oriented skills and knowledge. Immigrants, hampered by little or no English language ability and few marketable job skills, are at a significant disadvantage in competing for higher paying jobs and are often relegated to low paying, undesirable positions. For example, many Yemeni (Arab) women arrive in San Francisco with no or only a few years formal education and no knowledge of English, severely limiting their options in dealing with violence.

Additionally, most immigrants face dramatic changes in family roles and responsibilities. Women's roles are often expanded to include a significant contribution to family finances, while men's roles may contract. Tension in handling and adjusting to these shifts in traditional roles may lead to violence within the family. As children become acculturated faster than their parents, the parent's traditional authority and integrity decline, leading to further disruptions in the family. This emerged in several of the interviews. One community-based organization in the Filipino community urged a focus on youth programs due to the growing tension and increasing violence between parents and children.

Several immigrant groups have also experienced a wide range of violence prior to arriving in the United States. This includes violence associated with warfare, political oppression, and refugeeism. These past histories directly impact groups' definitions of violence and their inclination to seek services. Those who experienced violence from authorities in their country of origin may be extremely fearful of police or other authority figures in the United States. And many have not healed from these early experiences of violence, making it even more difficult for them to deal with current violence. For example, a service provider working in a Laotian CBO emphasized the futility of hotlines for Laotian women because of their extreme distrust of strangers.

For many immigrants, life in the United States is devoid of the traditional extended family and close knit community. There are either not enough fellow immigrants from the same country of origin or immigrants have not settled into ethnic enclaves where traditional communities may be "recreated" in the United States. This is particularly true for African immigrants who do not have a pan "African" identity, but rather identify with their home countries. Without these traditional systems of support, women and girls are at a loss about how to deal with violence, for it is traditionally dealt with in the family or community. For those women who do not have extended family in the United States, the prospect of losing one's only family may be more frightening than living with the violence.

Service providers have also found that many immigrant women's experiences of violence may be quite different from patterns first delineated in research on domestic violence in the United States. For example, anecdotal evidence suggests that the "cycle of violence" pattern is not a typical feature of domestic violence for South Asian and other immigrant women from society's in which men hold a strong sense of entitlement and where marriages are arranged. It is suggested that in such circumstances, the man does not go through a period of remorse and reconciliation because he sees no need to do so. Instead, abuse is more constant.

5.10.1 Services

Asian Women's Shelter provides literacy classes, citizenship workshops and legal assistance to their clients.

Donaldina Cameron House provides legal assistance and support groups specifically for newcomers. Literacy and citizenship classes are also offered.

Nihonmachi Legal Outreach provides a broad range of legal assistance to Asian and Pacific Islander communities including assistance with immigration and naturalization, government benefits and family law.

African Immigrant and Refugee Resource Center offers cultural orientation classes, language tutoring, adjustment counseling, immigration and citizenship assistance, crisis intervention, job training and placement, and emergency housing for primarily African immigrants.

The Arab Cultural Center Service Network provides cultural educational services including classes in Arabic, a lecture series, and community events. The center has an academic enrichment program for youth offering ESL, homework tutoring, acculturation sessions, and field trips to acquaint youth with living in the United States. It also provides an English language and literacy and Life Management skills class to recent Muslim immigrants.

Citizenship, Refugee, and Immigration Services (CRIS) is a program of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco provides culturally sensitive services in 10 languages. Services offered include ESL, job training and placement, civic education, advocacy, mentoring and tutoring, child care vocational training, employment counseling, emergency translation services, and referral. They provide special outreach and services to homebound seniors and Asian immigrants.

Jewish Family and Children's Services provides services to recent immigrants, particularly from the former Soviet Union. Services include case management, support groups and counseling, employment assistance, and financial assistance.

Arriba Juntos, a project of Proyecto Apoyo, works with immigrant women and women of color who are homeless or at risk of homelessness because of domestic violence. They received counseling, job training, employment and support services with the goal of becoming economically self-sufficient.

Mujeres Unidas y Activas is a grassroots immigrant women's organization, committed to education and organizing about domestic violence, unemployment, access to services, health care, and legal and civil rights.

5.10.2 Barriers to Services

Not Aware of Services: Immigrant women may not be aware of available services or have only a vague understanding of how agencies may help them. Services for women experiencing violence often are not commonplace in countries of origin and so the concept of such services is not familiar to many immigrant women. For example, the only means of dealing with domestic violence in the former Soviet Union was to appeal to the abuser's employer or the Communist Party leadership for assistance. As a result, many Russian women in San Francisco do not realize there are other means of assistance available to them.

Limited English Language Ability: The majority of recent immigrants are unable to communicate in English. This often prevents awareness of services and the ability to access them. For example, after a year and a half of physical abuse from her husband and father-in-law and threats to have her deported back to China, one Chinese immigrant woman attempted to call 911 after her husband threatened her with a butcher knife. When the police arrived, the husband who had functional English abilities claimed that his wife was having a jealous tantrum. Due to her inability to communicate with the police officers, the woman was not able to explain the situation and the police officers left. Later that evening, her husband and father-in-law beat her and locked her in a room for two days.

Fear of Deportation: Immigrant women, particularly undocumented women or immigrants dependent upon their abuser for their immigration status, fear being deported if they seek assistance. Abusers also use the threat of deportation to control survivors.

Limited Job Opportunities: Recent immigrants to the United States struggle to obtain employment. These women often immigrate with a marriage visa and due to their immigration status are not eligible for full time work. Their limited capabilities in English also impede their ability to obtain employment that contributes to their economic dependence on their husbands. Several Chinese immigrant women who were interviewed identified a need for job training programs. One woman who recently separated from her husband after three years of physical, verbal and emotional abuse stated that the best way to help women who are experiencing violence is to help them find jobs.

Do not Define their Experiences as Violence: For the majority of immigrant women, violence is more narrowly defined than it is in the service provider community. Physical abuse is considered violence, but other non-physical means of control are not always viewed as violence.

Distrust of Authority Figures: Many immigrants, such as Southeast Asian and Bosnian refugees, had traumatic experiences of war and moved between refugee camps and other settlements prior to arriving in the United States. Service providers reported that memories of war including interrogation, accusation, and rape by authority figures, continue to resonate in the lives of many immigrants. This contributes to reluctance on the part of many to report incidences of violence to police or service agencies.

5.10.3 Recommendations

Increase Collaboration between CBOs and Existing VAW Services: Locating services such as counseling, support groups and other preventive programs in community based organizations may alleviate the reluctance among many immigrant women and girls from venturing out of their neighborhoods to seek services. Increasing collaboration between community based organizations and violence against women services will also increase the immigrant women's trust of service providers.

Promote Life Skills Training: Immigrant women are in desperate need of life skills training to teach them about living in the United States and to enable them to fully participate in the community. Such programs are vital to prevention of violence, expanding a woman's options and educating her about her rights. In addition to teaching basic skills such as dialing 911 and how to use the public transportation service, programs such as literacy and job training equip them with the skills necessary to leave violent relationships should they wish. Immigrants who have not established "communities" with fellow immigrants present a particular challenge for existing services and programs due to their extreme isolation. The most effective point of intervention may be at the point of immigration.


Muslim women and girls in San Francisco comprise both native born women and immigrants primarily of Arab, Middle Eastern, North African, and Asian heritage. In identifying Muslim women and girls as a priority population, it is important to state that we are not identifying the religion, Islam, as promoting or condoning violence against women. The Islamic faith condemns all forms of violence against women and the Quran emphasizes the fundamental equality of men and women.

Muslim women and girls, rather, may be considered a priority population because Islam is a misunderstood and often denigrated faith in the broader society, most service providers have little experience working with Muslim clients and few have Muslim women on staff, and many Muslim women are from recent immigrant groups facing barriers common to immigrants (see Recent Immigrants, page 59). Recent Muslim immigrants tend to come from cultures in which religion is integrated into all institutions of life. Thus, any discussion of providing services to Muslim women and girls must take into account Islam and it's impact upon how a woman lives her life and perceives her role within the family and community.

One factor that increases a Muslim woman's vulnerability to violence is the American public's attitude towards Islam. The American public has very little understanding of Islam and its followers. The media promotes intolerance of and ignorance about Islam by falsely equating Islam with fundamentalism and terrorism. The result is a climate in which the Islamic faith and its followers are misunderstood, denigrated, and even feared. Incidences of hate violence increase in such a climate. And service providers and authorities mistakenly offer misguided or inappropriate assistance because of ignorance about the community. Additionally, many Muslim women then live with a perception that they are not safe or accepted within the larger society. A central goal of many Islamic organizations across the United States has been to educate the public about Islam and to end incidences of hate violence.

5.11.1 Services

There are no services specifically directed towards Muslim women or girls explicitly stated to be violence prevention or crisis intervention programs. There are community based and faith based organizations such as the Arab Cultural Center, which provide services to Muslim women. These services are not explicitly stated to be violence related programs, although prevention and intervention is one of the implicit goals. Specifically stated violence prevention or intervention programs are unlikely to be accepted or used by the Muslim community. Discussions of violence outside the context of the family or community is taboo and shameful, thus, any program directed at preventing or intervening must be embedded within a holistic framework directed towards improving the lives of the entire family and community (see Alternative Models, page ).

5.11.2 Barriers to Services

Do not Identify with Available Services: Muslim women may feel that programs that are not Muslim-specific will not meet their needs, understand their history and experiences, or accommodate their religious faith. There is a general perception that American society is antagonistic to the "family" and that VAW programs will encourage the woman to leave her partner. There is tremendous stigma associated with divorce and within some communities, a divorced woman will experience a social death or social banishment. Programs that treat women apart from the family are also very suspect because of the strong focus Islam places upon one's ties to the family.

Concepts of Privacy and Shame: There is a very strong belief that problems in the family must be dealt with by the family and community. Breaking family silence is taboo and brings tremendous shame and humiliation upon the community and the family. As one Middle Eastern Muslim survivor of sexual assault stated, "Growing up, things like violence or sexual abuse were never discussed. It is always hush, hush, so it is impossible to deal with. If you aren't discussing it, then you can't deal with it."

In the country of origin, the extended family is the locus of support and guidance sometimes providing the woman with culturally appropriate people to go to for help. In this country, though, women may be without their extended families and do not readily identify alternative people from whom to seek guidance. When outside help is sought for violence, it is the survivor who risks social ostracism for breaking the silence. For example, one Muslim woman was being beaten and choked with a telephone cord by her husband. A neighbor saw the incident through the window and called 911. The husband was immediately arrested. Many in the community blamed the woman for having her husband arrested, despite his attempt to murder her. To this day, her Imam (religious leader) and some community members will not speak with her.

Women will go to the Imam for guidance. The guidance she receives though depends upon how informed he is about violence against women. Some Imams may refer women to appropriate agencies. However, some will encourage women to ignore the violence. A Berkeley service provider whose clients include Muslim women gave the example of a woman who first sought guidance from her Imam. The Imam told her that in the worst case scenario her husband will kill her, but if this happens she will be considered shaheed (religious martyr), an honored death.

Denial: As with other marginalized or minority groups, Muslims have been slow to accept that all communities, including their own, experience violence against women. Accepting the existence of violence in the community is threatening to religious and community identity. People also fear that acknowledging violence in the community means supporting the larger society's prejudiced assumptions that Islam and Muslims are violent.

5.11.3 Recommendations

Promote Tolerance Programs: Programs that educate the community about Islam and Muslims should be promoted. Such programs are vital to prevention of violence by changing societal myths that lead to prejudice, intolerance, and hate violence. These programs will also promote religiously sensitive and informed responses to the needs of Muslim clients by police officers, service providers, and others. The Islamic Network Group of Santa Clara, which provides education seminars to police, businesses, schools, and other organizations serves as a model of such a program. This type of education is a vital component of any prevention effort.

Promote Faith-Based Agency Violence Prevention Programs: Muslim women are more likely to access programs from agencies that represent their religious and cultural heritage. Programs to prevent violence should be promoted in such agencies. It is vital that funders understand, though, that such programs will need to be prevention and intervention programs that promote the empowerment of women rather than explicitly stated VAW prevention or intervention response programs based on traditional or feminist models. The extreme privacy and shame felt in the Muslim community and the focus on the family over the individual means such programs would be threatening and doomed to failure. Programs such as literacy, life-skills, employment skills training, and other education efforts will empower women and are key to expanding a woman's options in dealing with violence. Additionally, programs need to be directed towards Muslim men. It was suggested that education efforts emphasizing the negative impact of violence on the children and the family as a whole would be more successful in preventing and ending violence.

Promote Outreach to the Muslim Community: Outreach to community leaders is necessary to inform the community about violence, the consequences of violence on the family and community, and the services available to prevent and deal with violence. Additionally, outreach efforts should seek to establish collaborations with religious leaders and Muslim organizations to help in designing an appropriate response to violence.


Asian Americans represent the majority of residents in San Francisco. The term "Asian American" applies to members of over 25 groups that have been classified under a single category because of their common ethnic origins in Asia. Asian Americans as a group are tremendously diverse and include individuals from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, India, and the Pacific Islands.76 Although this category consists of several diverse populations with their own histories of immigration to the United States, there are several factors that they share in common that are critical in understanding the experiences of violence by women and girls. Many of these are associated with the experience of immigration including limited linguistic capabilities, limited economic opportunities, diverging values associated with gender roles, and disruptions in social institutions and networks. The impact of these factors on the provision of and access to services for women and girls who have experienced violence is discussed below. In addition to these shared characteristics, certain Asian American populations present unique challenges that effect current needs for services. These have been identified below as well.

5.12.1 Services

Service agencies providing programs specifically for women and girls within the Asian American community who experience violence include a combination of community based organizations that cater primarily to individuals of common national origin as well as Pan-Asian agencies that provide services for several Asian American populations. The research indicates a mixed reaction to each type of agency. While several populations indicated that women feel more comfortable participating in programs within the community, the small size and tight social relationships within certain Asian populations coupled with the stigma associated with violence, particularly within the family, prevents women from accessing community based services. Pan-Asian programs, such as Asian Women's Shelter, which offers crisis intervention programs, such as a 24 hotline, counseling, and shelter, is able to provide interpretation services in a wide range of languages. However, several Asian American women expressed discomfort in accessing these services due to the perception that the agency was not intended for their particular community. These women said they would be more likely to utilize services from an organization that was both located within their community and staffed by members from their community. This mixed reaction to community-based services and pan-Asian agencies presents a unique challenge in improving utilization of services by women in Asian American populations.

Asian Women's Shelter (AWS) offers emergency housing for battered Asian women as well as counseling, childcare services and job training. AWS runs a hotline as well as an extensive language "bank" that includes interpretation in 20 languages. In addition, AWS provides classes in literacy, ESL and citizenship.

Asian Perinatal Advocates serves Asian and Pacific Islander communities by providing infant follow up care at San Francisco General Hospital which include home visits. In addition, APA provides a variety of educational workshops on infant care, parenting, child abuse and neglect, and family violence.

La Casa de las Madres is a multilingual shelter (English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and Tagalog) offering an eight-week emergency housing program and advocacy resources for women and children. La Casa works in conjunction with the Job Shop to provide resume writing and interviewing skills workshops and with Arriba Juntos to provide job training.

Nihonmachi Legal Outreach (NLO) serves Asian and Pacific Islander communities and provides legal representation for individuals who have experienced domestic violence. It also provides assistance and education programs on immigration and naturalization and other aspects of family law.

5.12.2 Common Barriers to Services

Fear of Losing Custody of Children: Many perpetrators threaten to take the children away. Women reported that this prevented them from attempting to seek services until children became the victims or potential victims of abuse. Strong patriarchal values on lineage may contribute to this barrier to services as children are traditionally believed to be the property of the husband rather than the wife. In addition, when seeking services means leaving children behind, Asian American women will often choose to remain in situations of violence rather than abandon their children.

Adherence to the "Good Wife, Wise Mother" Ideal: Many Asian societies hold women up to a standard of being a wife and mother who sacrifices her own personal desires and needs for those of her husband and children. This necessarily demands a loss of autonomy and prevents some women from seeking services in abusive situations 77

Attitudes towards Age and Gender: Asian Americans often originate from societies that maintain strict age and gender hierarchies. Confucian ideology dictates that younger generations should honor, obey and remain loyal to older generations. This value structure will often prevent youth from reporting violence experienced from older members of their families. In the same way, the value of male superiority over women will prevent women from reporting violence from husbands and other intimate partners. These attitudes tend to prevail even with increasing numbers of women working outside of the home. It appears that women's economic contributions do not necessarily reduce husbands' dominant positions nor diminish violence. Traditional family values, and beliefs in age hierarchy and traditional female roles significantly prevent Asian American women from relying on service programs to cope with abuse.

Lack of Familiarity with the Idea of VAW Services: For most, services for women experiencing violence were not commonplace in their countries of origin and they are unaware that such services exist in the United States.

Lack of Space in Shelter Facilities: Currently shelters are highly oversubscribed. The two largest shelters that provide interpretation in Asian languages, Asian Women's Shelter and Casa de Las Madras, are at capacity. As one staff member noted, "We are afraid to do outreach because we just don't have the space for more women. We are forced to turn away women everyday."

Concepts of Privacy and Shame: A prevailing belief among Asian American populations is that violence, particularly within the family, is considered shameful and a private matter. It is believed that women are virtuous by enduring suffering without complaining. Women who reveal experiences of violence are believed to bring on shame and dishonor to their families and are often given little support from Asian American communities.78

Do not Identify with Available Services: The insularity of the many Asian American populations contributes to the belief among women that services provided by agencies outside of their particular communities are not directed for them.

Lack of Community Based Programs: Due to several factors such as lack of funding, shortage of staffing, and lack of recognition of violence as a problem, many community based organizations do not offer programs for women who have experienced violence.

Do not Identify Violence as a Problem that can be Fixed: The predominant view of violence, particularly within the family, is that physical, verbal and emotional abuse is commonplace and to be expected between family members. It is believed that economic survival is more important than these incidents of violence. In addition, women often believe that their life situations are the result of "fate." Buddhism, for example, teaches the virtue of "persevering" and as a result, women holding this religious belief will often remain in violent situations.79

Stigma Associated with Counseling: Asian Americans are often reluctant to engage in therapy or to participate in counseling groups due to the belief that counseling results from serious psychological problems. In addition, Asian Americans often originate from societies where psychotherapy and counseling, involving discussion of one's feelings, is not common.

5.12.3 General Recommendations

Expand Shelter Program offering Asian Language Interpretation: There is a chronic shortage of spaces in shelter programs that offer bilingual and bicultural staffing. The shortage prevents existing programs from increasing outreach to populations that may be served. Service agencies such as Asian Women's Shelter and Casa de las Madres have a range of programs and language abilities as well as a historical presence in San Francisco. These programs are currently highly oversubscribed and would benefit Asian American women and girls if they were expanded.

Development of Transitional Housing Programs within Asian Communities: Asian American women reported fear of losing contact with their communities when placed in transitional housing. There is a severe shortage of transitional housing in San Francisco and existing programs tend to be small. By developing transitional housing programs for women and girls within communities, Asian American women and their children would be able to leave familial environments of violence while maintaining existing social networks with their communities. Research on domestic violence indicates that abuse decreases when social networks are strong.80

Public Education Campaign Expanding the Definition of Violence: Many Asian American women define violence as limited to physical abuse and do not include sexual, emotional, verbal or economic abuse in their conceptualization of violence. As a result, Asian American women will often not seek services as they believe that their experiences do qualify them for participation in violence against women programs.

5.12. 4 Specific Needs for Asian American Communities

Chinese Americans

Immigrants from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong represent the largest immigrant population in the city of San Francisco. In a recent study conducted in California, over 81% of Chinese American women reported verbal abuse in the preceding 12 months and 85% reported verbal abuse during their lifetime. 6.8% reported physical spousal abuse in the last 12 months and 18% over the course of their lives.81 While the relatively long history of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco has resulted in a strong network of community based organizations, there continues to be significant need for services specifically for Chinese immigrant women and girls who have experienced violence. While several service agencies provided Chinese interpreters and translators, the main problem is outreach.

Donaldina Cameron House is a highly successful CBO that offers a full range of VAW services including shelter, literacy and job training classes, legal assistance and food supplements. It is centrally located within the Chinatown area and engages in strong outreach efforts. However, due to the increasing demand for services, this agency is in need of expansion. Other service agencies such as Asian Women's Shelter and Asian Perinatal Advocates also report high utilization by Chinese American women, however; current capacity is limited and in great need of further development to meet existing demand.

Japanese Americans

Japanese Americans, along with Chinese Americans, have one of the longest immigration histories in San Francisco. The current population spans up to five generations. Traditional values of saving face and familial honor influence open discussion of violence, particularly within the family, which continues to be treated with secrecy and shame. This has contributed to the significant lack of information on the incidence of violence within this population. Despite the strong network of CBOs, there are currently no VAW specific programs available through these organizations. Nobirukai, or Japanese Newcomer Services (JNS), offers a wide range of services for recent immigrants from Japan including women support groups and counseling. However, the agency does not address VAW directly. Pan-Asian agencies such as Nihonmachi Legal Outreach, Asian Women's Shelter, and Asian Perinatal Advocates offer VAW services for this population; however, service providers reported few of their clients identify themselves as Japanese.

With fewer Japanese immigrating to the United States and the proportion of third, fourth, and fifth generation Japanese growing, Japanese women who experience violence may be accessing services from organizations, agencies, and health professionals that are not targeted for Asian Americans. However, agency funding reports do not indicate that Japanese clients are using their services. Further research on this population is necessary.

Southeast Asian Immigrants

Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese, and Cambodian individuals immigrated to the United States in large numbers during the 1970's and 1980's and have similar immigration experiences. Many of these immigrants reside in highly insular, geographically circumscribed areas of San Francisco. The largest populations reside in the Tenderloin District, which suffers from significant overcrowding and a high incidence of crime.

While these populations have been routinely grouped under the general category of "Southeast Asian Refugees", it is important to treat these groups as separate when developing programs related to violence. The languages used are distinct and the political histories, while intertwined, produce particular relationships that may impede individuals from these populations from feeling comfortable in participating together in programs. Currently, there are community agencies that serve the Laotian, Vietnamese, and Cambodian populations; however, there are no agencies specifically for the Hmong. The Hmong are at particular risk of being under-served due to the lack of bilingual staff available. None of the existing community based organizations have programs specifically addressing violence among women and girls. When referrals are made, women are directed to contact the Asian Women's Shelter.

Southeast Asians do not identify with service agencies not directly targeting them. One service provider within the Cambodian community, for example, reported that despite the availability of interpretive and translation services in Khmer at pan-Asian organizations, most Cambodian women would not be inclined to seek services at these agencies. Most Cambodian women, she explained, would only be comfortable seeking services at agencies that were not only staffed by other Cambodians but also located within areas where Cambodians reside and work.

South Asian Immigrants

A large percentage of South Asian women are recent arrivals to the United States. Many come through arranged marriages with South Asian men working in the Bay area. Unlike many of the other Asian American groups in San Francisco, South Asians do not live in ethnic enclaves within the city and are often isolated from one another. This contributes to widespread feelings of social isolation and leads to a perception that women are men's property, leaving them vulnerable to abuse.82

The triangulated effect of little or no English language ability, little preparation for life in the United States, and little social contact with other South Asians, contributes to the vulnerability of South Asian women. Isolation is a particularly pernicious form of abuse faced by this community. Women reported that their husbands would leave them alone in their homes during the day while at work without keys to leave the home. One reported that her husband would disconnect their phone and take it with him to work in order to prevent her from making contact with others. Another woman never left her home alone for over six months because she did not realize that she could open a double bolted door from the inside.

South Asian women have also reported a cycle of abuse that stems from regular phone calls made by husbands to his parents in South Asia. One woman reported that during the week, she and her husband would get along without incidence of violence. However, on Sunday after her husband made his weekly telephone call to his parents, her husband would physically and verbally abuse her. Others reported the same cycle of violence, explaining that during these conversations, wives were routinely criticized and husbands were instructed to control and punish their wives.

Currently, there are no community-based programs focused on violence against women in San Francisco. There are two community-based programs, Narika and Maitri, which are located in Berkeley and Sunnyvale, respectively.

Filipino Americans

Violence among Filipino Americans has recently become recognized as a serious issue within the community. It has emerged in importance due to reports in recent years that Filipinos experience one of the highest rates of violence in comparison to other groups. In addition, two highly publicized cases of the murder of Filipino women by their husbands has resulted in increased awareness and concern within the community. However, there still does not exist a community-based program specifically addressing violence against women and girls.

Immigration patterns have contributed to a generational divide within the Filipino community. There are larger populations of older women and school-aged girls with fewer women in their 30s and 40s. This impacts the service needs for this population. Due to the large proportion of Filipino youth, programs developed in conjunction with school and youth groups are needed to increase awareness of violence and provide information of available services. In addition, there is a need for programs for older Filipino women. The prevailing sentiment is that older women have few options other than to remain in a violent situation. Older women are considered to be missed opportunities for intervention and were rarely included in current VAW programming. CBOs are more inclined to develop programs for youth as measures towards prevention. Such programs targeting older women were, however, considered of low priority. The lack of current emphasis on older women indicates a gap in services and the need for outreach to this age group. These programs would require Tagalog and Illocano language services.

Korean Americans

Koreans have immigrated in large numbers to the Bay Area since the 1960's; however, compared to other Asian populations with similar immigration histories, the Korean American community tends to be highly insular. The research indicates that violence is a serious problem among this population. Over 60% of Korean American women report that they have experienced violence from their husbands or intimate partner.83 Service providers and Korean women clients indicated that Korean Americans were less likely to subscribe to pan-Asian programs and were attracted to programs and organization that were community-based. Because of the high insularity of the community, there is a tight social network that impacts negatively on open dialogue about violence against women and girls within the community. As discussed previously, this presents a unique challenge to providing services.

Recently, the Korean Community Center of the East Bay (KCCEB), the Asian Women's Shelter (AWS) and the Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse (KACEDA) have initiated a new domestic violence program in Oakland for Korean American women and girls in the Bay Area. Through funding from the California Department of Health Services, Child and Maternal Branch, these three organizations collaborated with CBOs in the Bay Area to establish Shimtuh to provide both intervention and prevention programs for women who have experienced violence. Currently, there is no community-based organization that specifically addresses violence in the Korean American community in San Francisco.

Service providers, key informants, and Korean women who have experienced violence identified the Korean Church as a barrier for women seeking VAW services. The church and church leaders play a significant role within the community with over 70% of Korean Americans estimated in weekly attendance.84 It was reported that women who have experienced violence who seek clergy for assistance are often told violence is a private matter. One woman reported that after revealing that her husband had physically beaten her, her minister told her that as a wife she must return home and obey her husband. Outreach and training of key social leaders on violence and VAW services is needed.

Pacific Islanders

Although only about 2% of the Asian population in San Francisco is Pacific Islander, they are an under-served population. The community is made up of first and second generations and has a consequent blend of traditional ways with Western and a strong influence of urban culture. The Samoan community is mostly located in the southwestern part of the city (Sunnydale, Excelsior, and the Outer Mission) yet its members do not usually utilize social services and agencies located in these areas.

Because the community is close-knit and insular, it is difficult to take action in situations of violence against women, particularly if the violence occurs between intimates. The tendency is to keep such incidents quiet and take care of them "within house." It is common for extended families to live within one household. When domestic violence occurs, the family will often turn a blind eye to violence, thinking it is better to let the couple work it out themselves. However there is evidence that this attitude varies by generation and where one is reared.

Currently there is no community-based organization that specifically addresses violence in the Pacific Islander community. Samoans are served by the Samoan Community Development Council (SCDC), which provides case management, advocacy, and informal peer counseling in English and Samoan. The SCDC works with Asian Perinatal Services, Family Resources Network, and the Girl's Project to provide services targeted to families, children, and youth. Child Protective Services also consults them when there is a case of suspected child abuse.

There is a need for outreach to educate the community about options and to raise awareness about violence against women. It is suggested that an appropriate format would be a series of structured workshops using Samoan and non-Samoan co-facilitators, both in English and Samoan. In addition, women expressed the need for job training, particularly for women between the ages of 25 and 45 years, to expand options and move beyond traditional gendered roles.


Numerically comprising a small percentage of San Francisco residents (less than 1%)85, Native American women and girls are generally overlooked or grouped in with other women-of-color despite their high rates of exposure to generalized violence in their everyday lives. They are a priority population which presents a challenge to service providers. A history of oppressive policies has created a legacy of displaced and broken families that "often [have] multiple problems of posttraumatic stress, abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual), substance abuse (especially alcohol), identity, and poverty"86 combined with a distrust of mainstream agencies.

Of the many policies created to force Native peoples to assimilate, the Relocation Program of the 1950s is significant. Native Americans from reservations were relocated to urban environments where they had virtually no support system in the way of family or clan and had very little knowledge of how to cope with the adjustment difficulties resulting from this change in lifestyle. Oakland and San Francisco were targeted destinations and consequently the greater San Francisco Bay Area now has one of the highest concentrations of urban Native Americans in the country, with more than 250 tribes represented. In the Bay Area, the residential geographic boundaries of Native Americans are fluid, with people moving around the Bay Area as dictated by job leads, family and service needs.

Native American leaders have identified alcohol abuse and its attendant consequences as the primary health problem in their community. This is significant for the majority of efforts in the health arena have focused on chemical dependency issues, and spousal and child abuse and neglect are related to alcohol abuse.87

5.13.1 Services

There are only two social service agencies in San Francisco that provide services specifically for Native women and girls who have experienced violence. Neither agency has violence as their main focus. While other agencies may provide services to Native women and girls, they do not have dedicated projects for outreach or assistance, nor do they provide culturally relevant services.

Friendship House is a residential substance abuse treatment program and drop-in support center primarily for Native Americans. It is the only treatment center in the Bay Area targeting Native Americans and they utilize traditional methods such as talking circles and drum circles. They have an Indian Health Service funded demonstration project, The Women's Health Prevention Project, which includes domestic violence prevention as a component, but no direct services for women and girls who have experienced violence. They work closely with the Native American Health Center to get mental health, medical, and dental services for women who have experienced violence.

Family and Child Guidance Center of the Native American Health Center provides mental health and substance abuse counseling for individuals, families, and groups both in English and indigenous languages (Lakota, Navajo). They offer both Western-style psychotherapy and traditional healing ceremonies to their clients. Support groups are run as talking circles and they have a talking circle for survivors of abuse.

5.13.2 Barriers to Services

Racism: When not ignored, Native Americans have long been targets of racism and denigration. While struggling with maintaining a tribal identity and cultural roots in an urban environment, some Native individuals must also contend with internalized oppression and low self-esteem.

Concepts of Privacy: As members of a marginalized community with a history of oppressive relations with the dominant society, many Native Americans feel it is not culturally appropriate to tell "outsiders" about problems. It is better to keep such problems within the family and community. This is particularly true for violence in the face of persistent racist portrayals of Native Americans as savages, primitive, and uncivilized.

Lack of Trust of non-Native Agencies: Native Americans are often distrustful of and uncomfortable with non-Indian agencies based on the long history of intervention and denial of self-determination by official government agencies and charitable institutions. For example, on reservations the Bureau of Indian Affairs took charge of policing. Many Native Americans would choose not to call authorities in cases of rape, severe violence, or murder because such crimes would be handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation rather than by tribal authorities.

Do not Identify with Available Services: Native women may feel that programs that are not Native specific will not meet their needs, understand their history and experiences, or treat their spiritual needs. They often do not use non-Native services because they feel their culture is ignored and, consequently, they do not have a sense of belonging. In the focus group, Native women stated the Native American experience is unique and so they could not work well with women who were not Native themselves or at least part of Native culture. Additionally, VAW agencies do not conduct outreach for Native American women and do not provide services in Native languages indicating to Native women that the services are not for them.

Fear of Losing Custody of Children: Native American women feared that seeking services may place them at risk of losing children, particularly to Child Protective Services. This fear should be understood against the historical backdrop of the widespread practice of removing children from Native homes to be raised by Anglo families or of being sent to boarding schools to force assimilation.

Economic Constraints: Native women noted the high cost of housing, the need to take care of children, and the lack of job skills as reasons that prevented them from leaving violent situations.

Lack of Priority Placed on Dealing with Violence: Violence against women and girls is not always given top priority. In the context of dealing with high rates of substance abuse, incarceration, and cultural dislocation, the issue of violence loses some of its urgency. A Native service provider felt women had the attitude that they "just had to deal with it" along with a myriad of other serious issues.

Hopelessness: Native women who had experienced violence spoke of the negative psychological effects of trying to obtain help: the discouragement when confronted by shelter waiting lists, the difficulty in finding resources that were culturally appropriate and accessible, the impossibility of seeing any potential change, and the increased feeling of isolation when their efforts were unsuccessful. One woman expressed the need for "something set up to let [us] know that you're there, that [you] can help [us], that we can sit and talk, to keep [us] going instead of feeling like nothing, like there's nobody there."

5.13.3 Recommendations

Promote Outreach to the Native American community: Culturally appropriate outreach efforts need to be increased. Outreach needs to include Native American staff and should be conducted at Pow Wows and other Native American cultural events.

Promote Community Based Programs: Programs are needed for Native American women and girls who have or may experience violence. However, the insularity and alienation felt by a significant proportion of Native Americans demands that programs be initiated and maintained by Native American service providers.

Promote Domestic Violence Components in Existing Programs: Existing programs serving Native Americans should integrate violence prevention and intervention components into their projects. Many of these programs address confounding factors to violence and, thus, are an appropriate means for targeting women and girls most vulnerable to violence.

Promote Education and Training of Service Providers: VAW agency providers need to be trained about the needs of Native Americans in order to provide the most appropriate services.


African Americans comprise approximately 11% of San Francisco residents. While African Americans reside throughout the city, communities are concentrated in Bayview-Hunter's Point, the Tenderloin, Western Addition, and OMI, each with it's own unique, in addition to common, concerns and experiences.

African American communities are severely affected by violence against men, women and children. Nationally, the number one cause of death among African-American females, ages 15 to 34 years, is homicide at the hands of an intimate partner or ex-partner.88 This is borne out in San Francisco, as well, where 36 % of the women who died as a result of domestic violence were African American. Additionally, 26% of the women seen at the Rape Treatment Center were African American,89 as were 40% of the children seen by the Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Resource Center.90

Experiences of violence in African American communities are directly linked to racism, sexism and the economic and social oppression African Americans continue to experience today. Hate violence against African Americans, which continues today often in institutionalized forms, has long historical roots in this nation. For example, African Americans experience more severe penalties in the criminal justice system including higher rates of incarceration and increased criminalization of youth. Community experiences with drug and alcohol dependency reflect the oppression experienced by African Americans. These are all factors that greatly inhibit any community's ability to respond effectively to experiences of violence.

5.14.1 Services

African American community based organizations have developed several innovative, holistic responses for dealing with violence against women and girls. Some VAW agencies have specific programs or groups targeting African American women.

Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), a project of Bayview Hunter's Point Foundation, provides crisis intervention, mental health counseling, grief counseling and social services referrals to individuals (24 years and under) and their families. Individuals who are experiencing emotional stress and/or trauma due to violence including gang and drug related incidents, domestic violence, sexual assault and hate crimes are targeted. They also conduct community outreach and education forums which focus on violence prevention education and grief counseling

Bayview Hunter's Point Foundation's Community Defenders provides legal and ancillary services including representation within the criminal justice system. Clients are also assisted with preparing for and obtaining employment.

Women Overcoming Violence Everywhere: Empowered, Trained and Capable (WAVE, ETC), a project of Bayview Hunter's Point Foundation, is domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and education project. The project targets culturally appropriate peer violence prevention education to schools and mothers at home through fact sheets and educational literature.

Girl's After School Academy (GASA) is a comprehensive program that serves girls 8-18 years old living in San Francisco's largest public housing development, Sunnydale, and the greater Visitacion Valley. It focuses on gang, violence, and pregnancy prevention and academic enhancement. GASA embraces a youth development model with an African American focus. The program provides a safe and nurturing environment for girls by offering positive role models, activities to inspire learning, and access to educational and recreational resources. GASA girls develop skills that help them communicate effectively, resolve conflicts non-violently, acquire gender and cultural pride, and become strong, competent leaders.

Sojourner Truth Family Resource Center is a community center offering services, support and educational groups, information and referral. They have co-educational violence prevention groups and African American groups for abusive men.

Glide Memorial Church, located in the Tenderloin, has a number of programs tailored to African Americans and violence. In their Black Extended Family Recovery Program, domestic violence is dealt with as part of the process of recovery by providing help with temporary restraining orders, referrals to shelters, escape plans, stay plans with danger awareness, support groups, and individual counseling. The Family Support Center assists with the transition to self-sufficiency by giving families individualized help in important areas such as counseling, support groups, nutrition and wellness workshops, case management, parenting classes and job skills training.

Young Woman Arise Project is a collaboration between Horizons Unlimited, Westside Community Mental Health Center, New Generation Health Center, and Youth Guidance Center. The program focuses on self-esteem/self-concept development for young African American and Latina women and includes a component, Females Against Violence (FAV), which is a peer education project focusing on domestic violence and sexual assault.

Westside Community Mental Health Center in the Western Addition has a Youth Awareness Program (YAP) which includes training on anger management, communication and social skills development, and parenting issues.

Omega Boys Club works with both young men and women 14-21 years old who are at risk for violence. Their Street Soldiers Violence Prevention Program provides information and referrals; workshops and presentations for community agencies, schools and other organizations; presentations to inmates in correctional institutions; and training workshops for agency staff. Their Omega Academic Program provides academic preparation and life skills education for all Club members. They receive counseling, college placement assistance and scholarship support for college-bound students and social and employment skills necessary for the job market to non-college bound students.

Experiment in Diversity Program, sponsored by the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, works to reduce community violence by bridging gaps caused by fear and misunderstanding.

Jelani House is a residential substance abuse treatment center with outpatient services for pregnant or parenting women. More than 80% of their clients have experienced some type of abuse in interpersonal relationships so they have domestic violence education, prevention, and support groups.

Sisters Working in Community (SWIC), is a collaboration between SAGE Project, ManAlive's Education and Research Institute, and Women and Children Family Services. The program targets immigrants, refugees, lesbians, prostitutes, and incarcerated women and girls focusing on the four under-served communities of Bayview/Hunters Point, Mission District, Western Addition and Visitacion Valley.

Violence is Preventable (VIP) Girls Project assists young women at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence by giving them access to a referral network. Services include counseling, case management, mentoring, family mediation, employment, peer education, and the production and distribution of a brochure on sexual violence in the African American community.

The Women of African Descent Task Force is a project of San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR). They work to develop culturally relevant services for African American women to support survivors of rape and sexual assault, their friends and family members, and to use education and community organizing as tools of prevention.

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. in collaboration with Family and Children's Services offers a weekly support group for African American women who are or have experienced domestic violence.

5.14.2 Barriers to Services

Racism: African Americans face racist assumptions about community behaviors and needs that affect outsiders' responses to and actions against African American communities. Racist and sexist myths about both African American men and women serve to minimize the violence they experience, the consequences of that violence, and the very real needs in the community to overcome and heal from violence. African American women and men may be hesitant to speak about violence they experience within their communities for fear that it will perpetuate racist assumptions that African Americans are more violent.

Lack of Trust of Police and other Institutions: Many African Americans do not trust the formal legal system because of historical bias and concern that the system will treat African Americans more harshly. African American women may experience a conflict when experiencing violence and seeking help. They may want help but fear calling the police because of this distrust and their awareness of the criminalization of African Americans. Also women may fear inappropriate handling by social service agencies. If the woman is involved in social services, she may be protective of divulging information that could be used against her or used to define her negatively.

Hopelessness: The extent of violence within some communities combined with confounding factors such as poverty produce a sense of hopelessness at ever being able to overcome violence. Multiple problems within any community are prioritized, where violence against women and girls may be given lower priority than other community needs. As with other populations that are experiencing hopelessness, alternatives are sometimes hard to imagine.

5.14.3 Recommendations

Promote Neighborhood Community Based Programs: African American service providers stressed the unique characteristics and needs of different neighborhoods within San Francisco. Thus, localized neighborhood programs that address the specific needs of neighborhoods should be promoted.

Outreach to Churches: The church plays a vital role in the lives of many African Americans and serves as an important avenue for community organizing and promoting prevention and intervention efforts. Collaborations between VAW agencies and churches in the development of programs is vital to establishing community rapport and support.

Promote Economic Empowerment Programs for Women, Men, and Youth: African Americans have been unfairly denied access to important means of economic empowerment more easily available to others such as business loans. Programs enabling economic empowerment within African American communities, including job training, assistance in establishing businesses, and assistance in procuring loans and other economic supports should be encouraged. Economic empowerment for everyone will serve to diminish the stresses that contribute to violence.


Based on the 1990 census, approximately 14% of San Franciscans identify as Latino. This statistic includes both immigrant and U.S. born Latinos and reflects the pervasive tendency to not differentiate between the two groups. American born Latinas and Latinas who immigrated to the United States have a complex cultural identity, combining and transmuting many elements of both American and Latin culture. For example, Latino culture in general places high importance on smooth interpersonal relations. Family needs are often put before individual goals. There are varying levels of Spanish language ability and code switching (moving from one language to another depending on the topic of conversation) is fairly common. For many English language dominant Latinas, Spanish is the language associated with family and emotions.

Because of the constant stream of migration and the relative closeness of Latin America, many Latinas have immediate and extended family members who are immigrants. Regardless of immigration status, Latinas have had to face xenophobia, racism, and oppression. Within the family setting, often times there is not much distinction drawn between those who are American born and those who are immigrants. There is potential conflict over differing concepts of proper behavior and response to situations, particularly with regard to gender relations.

There is much concern over youth violence and community violence among Latinos, particularly among those living in sectors of the city with gang activity where there is greater exposure to violence. It must be remembered that class affects experience significantly.

5.15.1 Services

The majority of VAW services in San Francisco have Spanish language capabilities, but there were few identified that have programs especially designed for Latinas.

Young Woman Arise Project is a collaboration between Horizons Unlimited, Westside Community Mental Health Center, New Generation Health Center, and the Youth Guidance Center. The project promotes self-esteem/self concept development for young Latina and African American women. Females Against Violence (FAV), a component of the project, focuses on domestic violence and sexual assault.

Mission Girls-Proyecto Adelante offers after school prevention workshops on rape, sexual assault, date rape, statutory rape and battering in Spanish and English.

Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth, a component of the Real Alternatives Program, focuses on gentrification and gang violence.

Instituto Familiar de la Raza offers mental health services to Latina women.

Instituto Laboral de la Raza provides services to those confronted with labor issues, including sexual harassment.

Arriba Juntos, a project of Proyecto Apoyo, works with immigrant women and women of color who are homeless or at risk of homelessness because of domestic violence. They received counseling, job training, employment and support services with the goal of becoming economically self-sufficient.

Mujeres Unidas y Activas is a grassroots immigrant women's organization, committed to education and organizing about domestic violence, unemployment, access to services, health care, and legal and civil rights.

Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) runs a free medical clinic with a weekly women's health clinic, which makes referrals in cases of violence.

5.15.2 Barriers to Services

Concepts of Privacy and Shame: As with so many other populations, behaviors that may reflect poorly on the community are kept quiet from outsiders. The long history of stereotyping and racism conspire against community acknowledgement of violence. It is also believed that problems should be resolved within the family. Discussing matters of a sexual nature is frowned upon, which makes seeking help for sexual assault, particularly if perpetrated by an acquaintance or intimate, difficult.

Religious Beliefs: Strong adherence to religious principles may limit what are acceptable options in cases of violence. For example, the Catholic proscription against divorce makes it difficult for a strongly devout woman to consider seeking services if she believes the only option will be divorce.

Denial: Latinos have a strong family orientation. The family is seen as a place of refuge and shelter from the world. It is, thus, difficult to admit that there may be harmful behaviors within the family. It is sometimes thought better to accept violence than possibly to disturb the family structure, particularly the potential removal of an individual from the household.

Adherence to Gender Ideal: There are strong messages about proper gender behavior including the image of la mujer sufrida, the long-suffering woman who silently endures on behalf of her children and family, and el hombre macho, the man who is responsible for making decisions within the household. Even though Latinas reject these ideals as outmoded and chauvinistic, the cultural ideals may still play an unconscious role in her decision to seek services for violence.

Uneven Relationship with Institutions: Personal contact and personalismo is important in Latino culture. A woman is less likely to use services if she is shunted from office to office or if, in her initial interaction, she is treated coldly. In addition, many Latinas are distrustful of bureaucracies and institutions such as the legal and judicial system, which have a history of violating the civil rights of Latinos.

Fear of Being "Outed:" There are still strongly conservative opinions about homosexuality in the Latino community. LBT Latina women may hide abuse if it may result in revealing their sexual orientation.

5.15.3 Recommendations

Promote Development of Latina Programs: Programming which goes beyond just the provision of Spanish language capabilities, but actively seeks to include cultural considerations, should be developed.

Outreach to Professional Latinas: More outreach to hire bilingual and bicultural Latina VAW agency staff should be encouraged.

5.15.4 Latina Immigrants

San Francisco has long been a destination for immigrants from Latin America. The largest populations are from Mexico and Central American, particularly El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. A survey conducted by the Immigrant Women's Task Force of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights reveals that 34% of Latinas surveyed had experienced domestic violence either in their country of origin, in the U.S., or both. Despite this, there are few organizations specifically for Latina immigrants that deal with violence. Although Spanish language capabilities are available at many VAW agencies, there are no programs specifically designed for immigrant Latinas with the exception of Mujeres Unidas y Activas. Latina immigrants face the same barriers as other immigrants detailed in section 5.10.


Perpetrators of violence were identified as a priority population, because any serious effort to reduce violence must address the causes of violence. Service providers noted a serious lack of programs to prevent men and women from becoming violent and to treat those who are already violent.

Efforts that do exist focus primarily on male perpetrators. However, women do perpetrate violence, making this a seriously neglected population. Current efforts to deal with domestic violence perpetrators include court mandated counseling in certified programs. Court mandated counseling must last 52 weeks, an arbitrary length of time and not based upon the actual progress the client makes in counseling.

Service providers also suggested that new models of violence and violence prevention and intervention must be developed. Models that emphasize a dichotomy between "perpetrators" and "survivors" obscure the fact that all people have the potential for violence. It promotes a perception that only specific "types" of people are violent, allowing perpetrators of violence to deny their violent behavior or making it difficult for perpetrators to admit their violence and seek services. This sharp dichotomy also makes it difficult for service providers to develop holistic, community based efforts to deal with violence.

5.16.1 Services

The following agencies provide prevention and/or intervention services for abusive men. There is only one agency and few private therapists who offer services specifically for abusive women.

Youth Striving for Excellence, a program of the Center for Human Development, provides mentors to at-risk youth in the County Community Schools to help with substance abuse issues and violence prevention.

Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Prevention Program, a program of the Center for Human Development, provides domestic violence and sexual assault prevention curriculum into the curriculum of therapeutic groups at Log Cabin Ranch, a young men's detention facility.

Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) offers prevention and intervention services for straight and gay men identified as abusive. They provide individual and group counseling. They also have a Youth Program to end young men's violence through group, individual, and family counseling; mentoring; and prevention education. MOVE is an SF APD Domestic Violence Certified Program.

POCOVI provides Spanish language services for abusive men and is SF APD Domestic Violence Certified.

MANALIVE offers services in English, Cantonese and Vietnamese and is SF APD Domestic Violence Certified.

Center for Special Problems specializes in mental health cases and in female offenders and is SF APD Domestic Violence Certified.

Latino Family Center offers English and Spanish language services. It is SF APD Domestic Violence Certified.

Jewish Family and Children's Services provides counseling and referral to violent men.

Men's Hotline is a 24-hour crisis line for batterer intervention counseling. English and Spanish are available.

5.16.2 Barriers to Services

Lack of Follow Up and Long Term Programming: Service providers emphasized that current programs do not have the capabilities of follow up or supporting clients long term. Young clients were seen to benefit from intervention and prevention programs, but a lack of follow up makes it extremely difficult for clients to maintain non-violent lives. They need continued support and constant reinforcement of recently learned behaviors and beliefs. Most clients live in contexts that lack this support. Thus, there is tremendous frustration that the current short-term and no follow up programming results in a "band aid" effect for clients.

Denial of Problem: Most perpetrators of violence deny that they are violent. They typically blame their behavior on the survivor or on stressful circumstances. When perpetrators of violence are required to attend counseling, they may be resentful and resistant to any benefits counseling may have provided.

Lack of Appropriate Services: There is a serious lack of services, particularly services directed to specific populations. Agencies are not able to accommodate men and women who do not speak English. There is a lack of culturally appropriate programming. And there is a lack of services for female perpetrators.

Lack of Accountability: Programs have had difficulty instituting measures of accountability. Without a sense of accountability to the community, family, and partner, changing behavior is difficult to achieve.

5.16.3 Recommendations

Promote More Creative Prevention and Intervention Programs: Programs should be developed that draw upon alternative, holistic models of violence prevention and intervention. Such programs should institute measures that require perpetrator accountability to the community, family, and partner.

Increase Collaboration with VAW and Community Based Organizations: Perpetrator intervention programs would benefit from increased collaboration with VAW agencies and community based organizations. The problems faced in dealing with perpetrators should not be seen as separate from the issues faced in dealing with survivors of violence.

Promote Public Awareness Campaign: A public awareness campaign should be promoted that promotes a community-wide definition of violence and how to recognize violence.

Promote Long Term Programming: Longer-term interventions must be instituted to insure that perpetrators remain accountable and do not continue to be violent.

Promote Population Specific Programs: Perpetrators from different populations have different needs and respond to different approaches in dealing with violence. Programs that serve the needs of specific populations should be promoted.

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