Outreach Boos at Lowell High School’s Love Fest

On February 17th, the W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Outreach team tabled at Lowell High School Wellness Center’s Love Fest.  Outreach Boos, Alicia Padillapaz and Shaena Spoor, were joined by folks from Hip Hop to Health , Planned Parenthood, LYRIC, JUMA, YAWAV, SFWAR, Huckleberry Youth Clinic and Hand to Hand Kajukenbo and Self Defense Center. Each organization brought their unique expertise to support and educate students on a variety of topics including reproductive health,  self defense and creating a culture of safety, consent and sex positivity.

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Left: W.O.M.A.N, Inc. Table; Right: Jaymie Frazier, Outreach Boo & School Counselor, participating in our Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Activity

At the W.O.M.A.N., Inc. table, Alicia and Shaena engaged students with activities focused around healthy relationships. They provided two fill in the blank activities to choose from: Dating Bill  of Rights and #YouDeserve. When thinking about relationships, the primary focus is often on the “we/us” — it’s easy for folks to overlook individual wants and needs. While the “we” factor is important, seeing oneself as a whole, unique individual within the partnership is so crucial. The Dating Bill of Rights prompts participants to reflect on what their needs and “rights” are in a relationship. Students picked one thing they would include on their “Dating Bill of Rights” by completing the statement “I have the right to_________.”

“I have the right to have control over my body.

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Outreach Boos Present DV101 to SHCP’s Men’s Varsity Basketball Team

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On Saturday, September 17th, W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s Outreach Boo-Crew was invited to present to Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep’s Men’s Varsity Basketball team.  Here, presenters Annie, Jaymie, and Shaena educated these young gentlemen on the definition of domestic violence as well as its prevalence amongst teens.  The Outreach Boos facilitated rich discussions amongst the teammates to help them define healthy relationships, challenge misconceptions of teen relationships, and outline ways to support peers who may be experiencing domestic violence.  The presentation ended with an important activity called the “Dating Bill of Rights,” where participants learned how to set healthy boundaries in their own relationships.  To the Outreach Boo-Crew’s surprise, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep’s Men’s Varsity Basketball team and coaches surprised them with various donations, including DVDs, toiletries, and a Wii console!  W.O.M.A.N., Inc. is truly thankful and appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with such a generous group!  We look forward to working with Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in the future!
– Jaymie, Outreach Boo

Volunteer Highlight: Astrea Somarriba

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1) When did you first get involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I started volunteering for W.O.M.A.N., Inc. in October 2015.

2) What inspired you to do anti-violence work?

My freshman year of college, I traveled to Lima, Peru with a group of students to learn more about the street child phenomenon and how it intersects with sex work in the city. During this trip, we had the opportunity to speak with and learn from sex workers who shared their unique stories, strengths, and hopes for the future. This propelled me towards further examining women and sexual violence in areas that have witnessed conflict or hardship and led me to Thailand, Cambodia, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Many of the women I met shared similar experiences of abuse, but also demonstrated remarkable resilience, and I was eager to continue learning from and working with survivors of abuse back home in San Francisco.

3) What kind of opportunities have you been involved with here?
With W.O.M.A.N. Inc., I’ve had the opportunity to work the support line, and in the process, learn a lot about domestic violence resources in the Bay Area. Now, I’m constantly on the lookout for cool organizations and am excited to share what I’ve learned with friends and fellow advocates.unnamed

4) How has your involvement impacted your life?
Working the support line has taught me a lot about what it takes to be fully present for another person. I’ve learned the value of pauses and in finding answers to challenging questions together. It’s given me the chance to develop my listening and facilitation skills, and “check myself” and any assumptions I may have often.

5) What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
You may have extensive training to provide support to domestic violence survivors, but the survivor is the expert in their own life and the author of their own story. It’s an honor to be included in their journey, so enjoy the time you have with them and make sure to take time for yourself. Acknowledge when you need space and time to re-energize and reflect.

6) Can you share a fun fact about yourself?
I cannot whistle and have very little interest in learning at this point.


Astrea also writes for Young Minds Advocacy. Check out her recent piece illuminating the importance of cultural competency.

Supporting LGBTQ Survivors

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Contributed by former W.O.M.A.N., Inc. volunteer, Jessica Hoh

Talking about intimate partner violence remains a dirty secret in any community, however within LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) communities discussing this issue is often shrouded with additional layers of shame and stigma. Research suggests that LGBTQ individuals experience higher amounts of violence in general, poverty, incarceration, poverty, suicide, and, unfortunately intimate partner violence as well. These rates are even higher amongst LGBTQ people of color.abuseawareness-ribbon-ctsy-messerwoland-wikimedia-commons

By now it’s commonly understood why LGBTQ communities experience higher rates of oppression: homophobia and transphobia incur bullying, bashing, higher rates of unemployment, etc. With these oppressions, it’s understandable that many LGBTQ individuals seek refuge and safety within queer spaces. Often LGBTQ individuals rely heavily on queer community, especially when their family of origins fail to provide them support and/or safety. These networks can become very powerful, beautiful and healing spaces.

However, we know intimate partner abuse does occur within LGBTQ relationships with
rates similar, (and certain studies report higher rates), to heterosexual couples.
When abuse does occur many survivors are at a loss for what to do, for many reasons. Some of those reasons include:

  • Misunderstanding gender dynamics of abuse: Cultural norms often generalize abuse as occurring solely from male-identified persons towards women. When abuse dynamics look different than that narrative, recognizing occurring abuse can be confusing and challenging. Especially so if a more feminine identified individual is the abuser.
  • Fear of portraying LGBTQ individuals negatively: LGBTQ individuals are often pathologized and “othered.” LGBTQ folks may fear additional negative labels applied to their identities.
  • Distrust of social service agencies: Many LGBTQ survivors are wary when seeking outside assistance due to homophobia and transphobia. Survivors may fear inappropriate questions, disbelief that abuse occurred, and failure for agencies to take abuse seriously. Additionally, as of present, there are no shelters for male-identified survivors. So if someone in a gay relationship experiences violence, they may experience a harder time finding shelter. For transgender survivors, finding shelter of any kind may incur even more difficulties.
  • Fear of alienation from LGBTQ community: Survivors may fear coming forward with abuse because they believe their community will side with the abuser. While this fear occurs in all communities, many LGBTQ individuals have little or no familial support so LGBTQ friends/family may be all the social support they have.        

 

Despite these additional experiences many LGBTQ survivors may experience, there are various ways survivor advocates can be sensitive to these issues:

  • Don’t assume gender: When answering crisis-line calls or working with clients, we often automatically generate gender identities for folks based on appearances and/or vocal tones. Simply asking instead of assuming can eliminate mis-gendering (using incorrect pronouns/names) survivors.
  • Use gender-neutral language: Replace phrases including “ladies” and “guys” with “folks,” “friends,” “person/people,” etc.
  • Hands groupTake extra steps for transgender survivors: Transgender individuals have the highest rates of suicide, bashing, poverty, homelessness and incarceration. They additionally often experience more challenges when seeking emergency shelter. Remember that on top of experience partner abuse, they may also be dealing with a lot of additional oppressions.
  • Keep in mind LGBTQ survivors experience additional hurdles: Remember LGBTQ individuals may not be out to their friends, family and/or employers, they may rely solely on LGBTQ community for support and they may hold shame over being LGBTQ. Being knowledgeable and sensitive to these additional layers will help assist members of these communities better.

Ending domestic violence takes support from the entire community. W.O.M.A.N., Inc. continually strives to be inclusive and supportive to survivors from all walks of life, age groups, race and ethnic backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations. I’m proud to be affiliated with such a strong group of individuals working to end domestic violence in all forms.  Keep up the fantastic, amazing work!

Sources: 

1) Renzetti, Claire. Violence in Gay and Lesbian Domestic Partnerships. Chicago: Routledge Press, 1996.

2)  MacKenzie, G. O. Transgender Nation. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press., 1994.


Are you in need of support for yourself, an LGBT friend or family member? You are not alone! You can:

Call our support line at (415)864-4722 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Contact an LGBTQ specific domestic violence program: 

  • Community United Against Violence (CUAV): (415)777-5500
  • The Northwest Network LGBT Domestic Violence Hotline: (206)568-7777

Volunteer Highlight: Ignacia Pérez Botto

1) When did you first get involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I got involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc. in October 2015.e202bb5c-cee6-43d1-8afe-82d9d4d5dabd

2)What inspired you to do anti-violence work?
I have always felt interested in working towards stopping the injustices that are in our society. Since I was a teenager, I wanted to become a psychologist, and when I graduated I had no doubt that I had made the right choice. I started working in human resources and practicing my passion in mental health as a volunteer, mostly with children and families.
Today, anti-violence work is a field I feel committed to, because it combines my passion of the work that I have been doing with families with a challenging issue that affects all kinds of people, no matter nationality, race or level of education.

3)What kind of opportunities have you been involved with here?
Since I finished my training in October of 2015, I have had a lot of different opportunities at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. First, I started covering the support line, and I am still doing that currently.
Later, I started receiving people who come for drop-in support and also got to facilitate a Spanish support group. All of these different areas have been an opportunity to practice containment, support, and also to learn from others. Yes! In this field you never stop learning!

4)How has your involvement impacted your life?
When I moved from Chile to the US, I felt the necessity of being involved with a non-profit organization and started building my entire career around my passion with mental health.
W.O.M.A.N., Inc. was the first place that opened their doors, trusted me and offered a new field to work with. Today, after 6 months, I think that I found a place where I feel comfortable, and where I feel free to express
my opinion and give ideas.

f707a5a0-2bb8-44e5-bbe5-5cf114b3081f5)What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I would tell them that by doing this job we are agents of change, and that even a small piece of our practice, such as answering a short call or giving a referral, may mean a substantial difference in someone’s life.
To new volunteers, I would say that by doing this job we should be aware that we may feel challenged and sometimes overwhelmed, so it is very important that, as part of our routine we give ourselves a space to practice self-care. This will be a key word if you want to work in helping others.
Finally, I would like to say that, by working in this field I feel that we are powerful agents that can educate our communities towards a better understanding about what domestic violence is about.


Here’s what our team has to say about this stellar volunteer:

“Ignacia has done so much for the Latina Program already. She is always ready to help out in anything and everything. I really appreciate how much she has helped me out.” -Adilia, Echando Pa’lante Coordinator

Summer 2016 40 Hour Domestic Violence Training

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Learn more about our volunteer opportunities here & fill out an application here.

Upon completion of your application, please email Alicia at alicia@womaninc.org to confirm we have received your application.

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week!

The Fall of 2015 group of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. folks who graduated the domestic violence training is one that sticks out for me. Since I began supervising volunteers, each person dedicating their time and energy into the organization has greatly impacted it.  Everyone has a strength they can bring whether it’s being really good at peer counseling, speak another language, reliable, communicative, having an awareness of power and privilege and bringing that to the table, etc. But this group in particular has really shown how impactful community can be.

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This was also the largest group we’ve brought into the Support Line program.  Facilitating a Support Line program training for 14, when it’s normally 7-8 people, in a tiny training space was cozy to say the least, but it was there I noticed how supportive they were of one another.  A few of the volunteers work in the office and I’ll hear about how they will still spend time together outside of W.O.M.A.N., Inc., or just hearing how they speak of one another gives me another sense of the respect they have for one another. One of the biggest things that caught my eye was the support line volunteer listserv we have set up for all volunteers working on the support line.  Normally, the way it’s set up, if a volunteer needs time off from their weekly shift they are responsible for trying to find coverage for their shift.  There have been times in the past when volunteers have had a difficult time finding coverage since volunteers generally have a lot going on in their life which makes sense. Since this new group began working on the line, there have been the normal amount of time-off requests but it’s different now. There’s definitely a higher rate of response from other volunteers available to cover for someone.  I joke with them and with Joy, our Program Assistant, that they actually make our jobs a little easier since they are taking it upon themselves to fill those holes in the schedule. I also loved hearing about how one of our newer volunteers reached out to her pal who went through the Fall training with her and got some needed resources when staff was unavailable during her overnight Saturday shift. 

It’s examples like these that made me want to highlight the Fall 2015 training group.  I really love of how they go to one another for support which is something we try to demonstrate at the organization; we try to show how impactful community can be.  They are an excellent example of community!

~ Mary Martinez, Peer Services Manager