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Mary E. Nutter, PhD.
Available 24 hours
P.O. BOX 5099
SEXUAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA 32602-5099
SPARC & RAPE VICTIMS
SPARC celebrated the 15th anniversary of the opening of the
shelter last year and we are proud of the services we provide.
SPARC has been a presence in this community since 1974,
when we opened the Rape Crisis Hotline. Our programs have
grown and changed over the years. We have provided a safe
place for battered women and free counseling services to
women since 1978.
Our mission is to interrupt the battering and end the cycle of
violence in our community.
During the 1992-93 year, we have provided shelter to
women and 183 children, for 3686 nights of shelter.
hotline kept busy with 4274 contacts and we provided
information and referred them to 3503 agencies.
In addition, we made 124 presentations in the community and
provided training to professionals, as part of our Outreach
At our Gallenkamp shelter, we have a facility that will
accommodate 30 persons. Our admission criteria is very
specific. Priority is given to women, who are in immediate
danger and women who have fled or are fleeing violent
situations with partners. Rape victims as well as victims of
partner abuse are our clients. Physical and emotional abuse
is also a criteria within a cycle of violence (a one time
occurrence is not considered a cycle).
Our capacity of 30 beds sometimes limits who we can accommodate, for
instance a woman with 7 children may not be able to be admitted for
lack of enough beds, but we would then refer them to another shelter.
We have found that a four week stay is needed by most women, if they
plan to transition into a new housing situation. The average length of
stay is 20 days. Each case is unique and needs are continually assessed
by our case managers to determine how long a family can stay.
Sometimes, we find that the woman's needs to get re-established are
greater than we can accommodate at our emergency shelter and we then
refer her to an agency that provides transitional housing.
Our shelter clients are women and must be adults. Children may
accompany their mother. Children who are in the custody of a woman
may also accompany the woman.
The following situations do not meet our admission criteria:
1. Women who are not in violent/dangerous situations, but financially
are unable to secure a place to live, are referred to salvation Army
or St. Francis House.
2. Drug or alcohol related substance abusers, may not be cleared for
admission, if they have not been clean for 3 months or if they have
not begun counseling or treatment. Our staffing pattern does not
allow close supervision of someone who may be going through
withdrawal while in residence and we have no drug counselors.
3. Severe medical problems that may warrant staff (with some medical
background and skill), to supervise. Our staff has little or no
4. Mental health problems, especially if the client is taking
psychotropic drugs. SPARC staff are not trained to provide crisis
intervention that such women may need.
5. Women with suicidal tendencies many abused women contemplate
suicide to escape the situation. Having suicidal thoughts and an
actual plan are different and if a woman admits to having a plan
or having carried out a plan recently, she may be denied, because
staff are not trained to provide crisis intervention, nor do we have
enough staff to provide a suicide watch.
We at SPARC, recognize that the services of our agency. and those of the
Rape Victim Program are linked both through history and through
purpose. Both programs grew out of the Rape Information Counseling
Service (RICS), originally staffed by a small number of feminists who
voluntarily counseled victims of violence by phone. In terms of purpose,
we are both actively serving the victims of sexual and physical battery,
primarily women and children.
Therefore, we at SPARC, agree to shelter rape victims in need of a place
to stay. We do so under the following conditions:
1. Rape victims must be referred by an advocate of the Rape Victim
Advocate Program or law enforcement agency.
2. Rape victims must be female and legally adults.
3. Rape victims remain the primary responsibility of the RVAP.
SPARC'S responsibility is limited to providing emergency food and
shelter for up to 72 hours. All medical needs must be taken care of
prior to shelter admission. Counseling responsibilities remain with
4. The advocate must initially screen the victim, to determine
appropriateness of shelter placement.
5. After determining that the victim is appropriate, the Advocate
should call the hotline number to refer the victim. SPARC will
need to speak directly to the victim and inform her about the
6. SPARC has the right not to accept rape victims to the shelter, when
bed space is limited, or when SPARC has determined that the client
is inappropriate for shelter placement. Clients who are drug or
alcohol dependent or mentally or physically unable to supervise and
care for themselves, are not appropriate for SPARC shelter
If we cannot accommodate a woman, we will attempt to refer her to a
more appropriate facility. We make every possible effort to ensure the
woman is aware that there are other possible resources for her.
We are aware, as you are, of the magnitude of the problem of battered
and abused women. We often wish that we could do more for them. We
will continue to provide the battered woman and her children with safety,
information, access to resources, programs and services which promote
self-esteem and self-reliance.
We also provide phone counselling and referrals for men, who may be
victims of domestic violence.
If you have a client you think may need our services, you may wish to
talk to one of our counselors on the hotline (1-800-393-SAFE). In the
meantime, I would be glad to answer any questions you might have about
our procedure or criteria. Please feel free to call me at 377-5690.
I hope this information is helpful to you in your area, as you encounter
women who may need our services. We look forward to a continuing
positive relationship with you.