Dear Members,

July is Disability Awareness Month and the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal law that sought to equalize opportunities for people with disabilities, including access to family violence services. The most often quoted reason to become accessible is that it is the law. The ADA is the law; yet the most compelling reason for accessibility is that people with disabilities are abused at staggering rates and live in each of our communities. It is also simply the right thing to do. Our responsibility is and always has been to create welcoming services and reach out to all populations who are not safe in their homes. In this issue we highlight Allies to Survivors with Disabilities (ASD), a project of the Texas Council on Family Violence, resources for providing services to survivors with disabilities, SafePlace in Austin, The Bridge Over Troubled Water in Pasadena, and Houston Area Women’s Center in Houston as examples of three Texas agencies with dedicated efforts to ensure accessibility to people with disabilities. During this anniversary month, we encourage all Texas programs and individual advocates to think about ways to increase service accessibility to survivors with disabilities and outreach strategies.

Wendie H. Abramson
Disability and Deaf Services Director/Chief Program Officer
SafePlace, Austin, Texas
Category I Member

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Allies to Survivors with Disabilities (ASD)

Allies to Survivors with Disabilities (ASD) is one of the TCFV Caucuses and Allies Networks (CANs) with members from around the state. Our mission is to improve access and availability and assure quality services for survivors with disabilities. We hope to raise awareness in the family violence community of services needed by survivors with a wide range of disabilities and survivors who are deaf.  Many survivors do not receive services due to barriers, such as a lack of funding for American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters or physical accessibility.  However, sometimes agencies may not be aware of simple solutions for accommodations. For that reason, we will respond to questions and provide monetary assistance to shelters for specific accessibility needs as funds permit. We will contact family violence agencies when this process is in place.

We will also gather information about the needs of the communities we wish to serve by inviting additional members to join ASD, including people with disabilities (cognitive or intellectual, as well as physical or mental health) and people who are deaf or hard of hearing and who are blind or have low vision. Our goal is to help TCFV make simple solution accommodations more readily available to the family violence community. If you are interested in joining ASD, please click here for an application form.  Please also visit our ASD webpage at www.tcfv.org/asd for up-to-date information and resources.

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Program Updates

Family violence programs throughout Texas create innovative ways to increase services to survivors with disabilities. In this issue, we highlight three of these programs.

SafePlace, Austin, TX
SafePlace has made several significant strides in its efforts to increase services to survivors with disabilities. They have developed new power and control wheels and respectful partner relationships. These are under review by Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP) and will be available on the SafePlace website, www.SafePlace.org/disabilitywheels. They have provided trainings to Adult Protective Service workers in each of their regions. These trainings were designed to help case workers understand the dynamics of family violence, explore ethical issues, and develop strategies for working with clients who have mental illness symptoms. In addition, SafePlace recently held a national conference on trauma-informed service delivery, specific to survivors of domestic violence/sexual assault, who have mental illness symptoms or cope through substance abuse. SafePlace will develop proceedings of conference stakeholder recommendations for trauma-informed service delivery to submit to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

SafePlace is a Category I member. For more information, click here.

Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC), Houston, TX

HAWC has a holistic service approach for survivors with disabilities, including counseling, education and connections to other disability-specific services in the community. The resources available are comprehensive and customized. HAWC works to assure that survivors receive group or individual counseling which incorporates crisis intervention, as well as disability management and case management. The program also does a great deal of community outreach to maintain a good network of services among disability providers to ensure that they know to refer survivors with disabilities to HAWC. This approach gives survivors who come to HAWC access to additional disability services in the community. The outreach component also includes visiting Houston area independent living centers to educate residents about domestic and sexual violence.


HAWC is a Category I member. For more information, click here.

The Bridge Over Troubled Water, Pasadena TX

The Bridge Over Troubled Water provides outstanding services to survivors with disabilities. The program has 42 units of permanent housing specifically for women with a documented disability (mental or physical) and children in their care. The Bridge’s specially designed apartment complex, Destiny Village, houses 30 units. An additional 12 units are located throughout the community. The rent for permanent housing units is subsidized on a sliding scale and includes all advocacy and counseling services that are offered to clients staying in the emergency shelter. There is an on-site licensed child care facility for the clients who pay on a sliding scale, as well as a resident management organization with officers who manage the program by planning awareness events for October, fundraising events for their expenses, and by running a welcoming committee, among other projects. These programs are very beneficial in helping clients develop leadership skills.

The Bridge Over Troubled Waters is a Category I member. For more information, click here.

If you would like to request training on providing quality services to survivors of family violence with disabilities, please contact Rose Hernandez at rhernandez@tcfv.orgrhernandez@tcfv.org.

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July is Disability Awareness Month

Survivors of family violence face many obstacles and challenges when seeking safety from an abusive relationship. Survivors with disabilities can face additional barriers, including difficulty in physically accessing services. The social isolation and discrimination associated with having a disability only further compound the limited access to services.

In the last decade, a number of programs nationwide have made great strides in increasing options for people with disabilities who are hurt by family violence. Some of these efforts have included conducting community needs assessments and addressing identified gaps by adapting policies, training staff, including an agency budget line item for accessibility, engaging volunteers with disabilities, developing partnerships with disability service agencies, targeting outreach efforts and making physical modifications.

It is easy to take being able-bodied for granted, which is why it is important to learn how to better serve survivors with disabilities.  

Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Learn how to make sensitive language choices. Click here.
  • View a brochure on “Domestic Violence and People with Disabilities” from the North Carolina Coalition on Domestic Violence. Click here.
  • Request free informational fact sheets developed by SafePlace. Click here.
  • View information on Serving Survivors with Disabilities from the Equal Rights Center. Click here.
  • Read information on Accessibility and Responsiveness for Survivors with Disabilities from NCADSV. Click here.
  • View information on Intimate and Caregiver Violence Against Women with Disabilities, from the Battered Women’s Justice Project. Click here.

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Hi TCFV members!  My name is Cassie Drochelman and I’m the new Membership Services Coordinator at TCFV.  I’m originally from Louisville, KY and went to college at the University of Missouri.  I’ve recently returned home from a year in South Korea, teaching English to children ages 4-14.   It was a great experience and I enjoyed being with kiddos every day, but I’m excited to be back in the States working in the field of family violence, which is where my passion lies.  Prior to going abroad, I was a hospital advocate for the local women’s shelter in Columbia, Missouri.  During graduate school, I was a coordinator in the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center at the University of Missouri.  These two experiences helped me find my passion for serving survivors of family violence.  I’m so excited to join the TCFV family!

I look forward to emailing, speaking with, and meeting all of you soon!

Cassie Drochelman

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Upcoming  Trainings

Understanding Subpoenas for Family Violence/Sexual Assault Programs Webinar, July 28, 2011. Click here to register. **Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of this material, registration will need to be approved.

TCFV Criminal Justice Systems Response Training (San Antonio), July 29, 2011. Click here to register.

TCFV Criminal Justice Systems Response Training (Pampa), August 4, 2011. Click here to register.

Family Violence/Department of Family and Protective Services:  MOU and A Guidance for Best Practice Webinar, August 25, 2011. Click here to register. **Only HHSC funded programs are encouraged to participate.

Enhancing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases (EJS) Workshop (Baltimore, MD), September 18-21, 2011. Click here for more information.

The Texas Conference for Women (Houston), November 17, 2011. Click here to register.

Enhancing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases (EJS) Workshop (Santa Fe, NM), December 4-7, 2011. Click here for more information.

Responding to Crime Victims with Disabilities National Training Conference (Orlando, FL), December 13-15, 2011. Click here for more information.

The 6th Biennial National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence (San Francisco, CA), March 29-30, 2012. Click here for more information.

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How are we doing?

We are revamping our e-newsletter and would like to hear your feedback! Do you have ideas about what you would like to see in the monthly Membership Matters e-newsletter? Please contact Cassie Drochelman at cdrochelman@tcfv.org with suggestions.

©Texas Council on Family Violence, 2011

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