1983-1984 ANNUAL REPORT
I. History of SPARC
The Sexual and Physical Abuse Resource Center (SPARC) has its
.! origins in the Rape Information and Counseling Service (RICS) begun
in 1974. RICS established a rape hotline in 1974 and almost immediately
began receiving phone calls from battered women. As media coverage of
spouse abuse increased, so did the numbers'of calls RICS received from
victims of battering. In 1976, RICS began to expand its services to
include battered women, providing many of the services to these victims
that were available to rape victims. It became obvious, however, that
victims of battering needed more than crisis counseling or occasional
shelter in a volunteer's home.
In March, 1977, RICS applied for and received three positions
through the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) for a
one-year project on domestic violence. The project provided counseling,
information, referrals, victim advocacy services, and community
education. Clients were referred to local agencies for shelter (St.
Pleasant House, Salvation Army); however, these were unsuitable for
several reasons: they had limits of three to four days, they did not
offer counseling or a supportive atmosphere for women, or they housed
transients creating an unhealthy environment for children.
In September, 1977, a spouse abuse hotline, 377-TALK, was added
and RICS changed its name to the Sexual and Physical Abuse Resource
Center (SPARC) to reflect the organization's broader mission. SPARC
applied for its present shelter site through the Regional Utilities
Board and was chosen over several other applicants in January, 1978.
SPARC's acceptance was facilitated by active display of community
support spearheaded by present board members, Lynda and Don DeKold.
Although the first client was admitted March 11, the shelter was
officially opened on March 30,with a dedication and ribbon-cutting
ceremony. SPARC became a charter member of the Refuge Information
SNetwork and was selected to send a delegate to represent the South-
eastern region on the steering committee of the National Coalition
Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
In 1979, SPARC applied for and was granted state funding. As
a result, SPARC received official mandate to provide services to the
sixteen counties of HRS District III. At present, we receive United
Way monies and Marriage License Fee Trust Fund monies administered by
HRS and are mandated to serve eleven counties (Alachua, Bradford,
Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Putnam, Suwannee,
and Union). We have seven staff positions including the Executive
Director, Counseling Services Coordinator, Shelter Services Coordinator,
Children Services Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, administrative
assistant and resident manager. The program has flourished with a
base staff of funded employees and thirty-eight active volunteers.
II. Clients Served
aperts estimate that approximately 50 percent of all women will
be battered at some point in their lives. At least 20 percent of
battered women are beaten on a regular basis (i.e., once per week or
once per month). SPARC's services are potentially available to every
one of these women and their families. First, battered women must learn
that being beaten ii not acceptable behavior, and second, that services
are available to help end the abuse, to develop self-esteem, and to
begin living non-violent and fulfilled lives.
Through the emergency shelter program, SPARC served 96 women and
122 children during fiscal year 1983-1984. In addition, 39 women
and 11 men were served through SPARC's out-of-shelter counseling
^ program. The majority of SPARC's clients (approximately 70 percent).
originate from the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services
Sub-District A, while the remainder come from other Florida Districts
or from out of state. Approximately 80 percent of SPARC's clients
are from low-income households, and about 20 percent represent minority
III. Unique Needs Being Met
SPARC is the only program in the Department of Health and Rehabili-
tative services Sub-District A whose primary concern and purpose is
to deal with the issues and problems of family violence. SPARC is a
grassroots organization founded by community residents who were concerned
about the lack of resources for victims of family violence. SPARC
plays a unique and important role in the community by identifying the
needs of battered women and their families. Without advocacy by SPARC,
victims of family violence would continue to be ignored by their com-
munitres. SPARC brings the problems of battering out of the closet
and places the issue of family violence in its proper perspective:
victims of family violence are concerns not only for individuals and
families, but also for the greater society which generates and dictates
acceptable forms of behavior. SPARC makes a major effort to reassess
and change the social values which perpetuate such violence and continues
to develop the educational and preventive'components of its programs.
IV. Operational Procedures
Since the antecedents and efforts of abuse are multi-faceted,
intervention requires a carefully developed approach which addresses
all the identified problems. SPARC focuses on three levels: (1) the
A individual, (2) the family, and (3) the wider community.
For the individual, SPARC offers a safe shelter where a woman can
catch her breath, both physically and psychologically. In severe cases,
this respite significantly reduces the very real threat to life and
health that battered women face. Through an intervention program based
on a self-help model, victims of spouse abuse are able to gain increased
self-awareness and self-esteem. In addition, they can take the begin-
ning steps to a more fully realized self. SPARC supports those actions
which enhance an individual's sense of control and feelings of self-esteem.
Upon admission to the shelter, a woman is assigned a staff advocate
wh6se task is to assist her in developing a goal plan. The advocate
serves as a case manager/advocate and provides concrete information
regarding employment, legal, housing, and child care resources. The
advocate is knowledgeable about these systems and often acts as enabler
in helping a woman to access the often complex bureaucratic organi-
zations which are a most important resource to her.
The support, or "rap", group is the primary counseling vehicle in
the shelter. Group counseling is especially effective with battered
women due to their extreme isolation and tendency to assume responsi-
bility for the battering. Peer support, along with awareness that their
experience is far from unusual, tends to break down the often deep-
seeded feelings of guilt, shame, and powerlessness experienced by victims.
In addition to advocacy and group counseling, individual counseling is
also available both in and out of the shelter.
Through children's services, SPARC provides a non-violent milieu
where coercion and abuse, both physical and emotional, are seen as unac-
. ceptable, learned behavior. A cooperative child care program provides
' children with supervised activities, treatment based on a developmental
play model, and escape from parental conflicts. Mothers assist in
co-op on a rotating basis and are provided parent skills training and
role modeling. When not participating in co-op, mothers have free
time for pursuing personal, professional, and family goals.
On a family level, SPARC offers couples counseling and time-
limited family therapy. Our hope is to increase the functional level
of families who are enmeshed in domestic violence. Initially, SPARC
often increased the strengths of a single-parent family since most
of the families had become severely dysfunctional by the time our
services were sought. However, as we increase and expand our services
and the community's awareness of our services, we are able to focus
on early intervention for violent families and on strengthening the
family unit before it reaches the point of dysfunction. Individual
counseling for the spouse abuse offender contributes to family therapy
by acknowledging responsibility for battering and by teaching alter-
nativt methods for coping with stress. Studies have shown that without
intervention, batterers tend to carry their abusive behavior from one
relationship to the next. Providing services to both the victim and the
offender enables SPARC to approach spouse abuse holistically and to
deal with the entire relationship.
On a community level, we continue to increase public awareness of
family violence. Community education is especially significant since
one of the hallmarks of the syndrome is a conspiracy of silence which
serves to maintain the violence. In order to end family violence,
Public awareness of the problem must be increased, myths and misin-
9 formation must be counteracted, and social tolerance for violence must
be eliminated. SPARC also works with related community service agencies
and provides in-service training to police departments, health care
facilities, mental health centers, and government agencies to increase
their understanding of spouse abuse and to delineate strategies available
to them in dealing with family violence.
Spouse abuse prevention is the most important component of all
SPARC's services. Prevention is partially accomplished through
education, whereby the public's awareness of spouse abuse is heightened
and the acceptance and tolerance of abuse is lessened. Consequently,
more individuals are likely to seek help early in an abusive relation-
ship, when there is a greater chance to eliminate the behavior and
prevent ongoing abuse. Prevention is stressed particularly in SPARC's
children's services, where children are taught that violence is not
an acceptable form of behavior. Through developmental play and coun-
seling, children are less likely to carry violence into their adult
relatAnships. Children are our hope for a non-violent future.
V. Detailed Description of Services Provided
SPARC is organized to address the needs of battered women and
their families, to develop programs and services for victims of
family violence, and to implement programs designed to alleviate
battering and the cycle of violence that companies abuse. SPARC's
overall mission is to move beyond crisis intervention and into the
realm of social change. Societal attitudes are deeply ingrained and
tacitly condone violence in the family and violent behavior toward
women. By challenging these attitudes, which manifest and have
$ consequences in legal, financial, educational and health care arenas,
- SPARC hopes to virtually eliminate family violence.
In light of SPARC's mission, the following services are provided:
1. 24-hour hotline staffed by a combination of paid
professionals and trained paraprofessional volun-
teers.who provided crisis intervention, counseling,
information, and referral;
2. 15-bed emergency residential facility for functional
adult women and their dependent children;
3. Individual counseling for both in-shelter and out-
4. Group counseling for in-shelter clients;
5. Couples and family counseling;
6. Case advocacy, management, and follow-up;
7. Emergency transportation;
8. Emergency food;
9. Cooperative child care program for residents of
the Shelter. This program includes a parenting
group for mothers as well as developmental play,
counseling, and advocacy for children;
10... Community education to professional groups, community
S. organizations, and academic classes;
11. In-service training to other community agencies
dealing with the problems of family violence; and
12. Volunteer training in the theories, issues and
dynamics of family violence as well as in skilled
assistance with all above-mentioned services.
Census days for SPARC's emergency shelter totaled 3,444, giving
an average occupancy rate of 63 percent for the year. During
fiscal year 1983-1984, SPARC's emergency shelter clients received
265 units of individual and group counseling. In addition, shelter
clients received 388 units of case management and advocacy (which
includes such services as working on case plans, escorting clients
to court hearings, etc.), and 25 information and referral units.
Emergency transportation was provided 152 times and emergency food
was provided 142 times. For the children staying at the shelter,
children's cooperative services were provided 48 times, for a total
of 192 hours. Finally, follow-up services were provided to 41
Out-of-shelter clients received 225 counseling sessions during
fiscal year 1983-84. Out-of-shelter sessions included both indi-
vidual and couples counseling.
Through SPARC's hotline, phone counseling was provided 483 times
during fiscal year 1983-1984. In addition, information and referral
was provided 1,032 times. Case management, which involved phone
calls, was provided 682 times for SPARC's clients. Finally, 351
calls for admission were screened during the year.
Community education and training sessions were provided 66
times during the course of fiscal year 1983-1984. Volunteer
training was provided four times during the year, for a total of
80 hours., (Each session included 20 hours of training.)
By the end of June 1983, SPARC maintained seven staff positions.
Three were full-time positions and included the Executive Director, the
Counseling Services Coordinator, and the Shelter Services Coordinator.
P Four part-time positions included the Volunteer Coordinator, the
1 Chidlren's Services Coordinator, the Administrative Assistant, and the
Resident Manager. In addition, SPARC maintained a sta-f of 36 volunteers
during the year.
VII. Program Needs and Goals
In coming years, SPARC will strive to increase community support,
to improve interagency cooperation, and to increase availability of
services so as to meet the current and increasing demand. Improvement
of programs includes the expansion of out-of-shelter services. Our
current out-of-shelter program permits counseling of only a small
percentage of batterers. A program for batterers would allow SPARC
to reach another area of the spouse abuse problem. Additional commu-
nity development is also needed to promote better understanding and
support of spouse abuse issues.
In keeping with our central mission and dedication to quality
services, SPARC's objectives and goals for the coming year include
1. To assure SPARC's current level of shelter services and case
advocacy by maintaining the position of Shelter Services Coordi-
nator. Currently, the Shelter Services Coordinator is responsible
for the management of all services provided to families each year
through SPARC's shelter program. This position is responsible for
working with shelter clients on their goals and plans of action
and for intervening or advocating with community agencies for
much-needed resources. Prior to the funding of this position
through Marriage License Fee Trust Fund monies, these respon-
sibilities were divided between the Counseling Services Coordi-
1 nator and existing staff. Consequently, shelter services were
not easily coordinated and case advocacy efforts were often
neglected. Without a Shelter Services Coordinator, shelter
services would again become the responsibility of the Counseling
Services Coordinator, who is currently responsible for all indi-
vidual and family counseling of out-of-shelter clients each year.
Clearly, this is an overwhelming task for one full-time position.
Continuation of the Shelter Services Coordinator position would
assure that case advocacy and out-of-shelter counseling would not
be sharply curtailed.
2. To increase out-of-shelter and offenders' counseling by
securing additional funding for a half-time counselor for bat-
terers and thereby enabling SPARC's Counseling Services Coordinator
to expand out-of-shelter caseload. SPARC intends to conduct an
intensive search for additional funding sources through foundation
grants. Several potential sources have already been identified.
half-time counselor for batterers would enable SPARC to reach
and rehabilitate a significantly greater number of offenders.
Although our goal is to provide services to families enmeshed
in violence, SPARC is now reaching only ten percent of clients'
households. An effort must be made to reach a greater number of
offenders if we hope to address the entire spouse abuse problem
and approach an end to family violence.
In securing the positions of the Shelter Services Coordinator
and Counselor for offenders, the Counseling Services Coordinator
S could then increase services to women out-of-shelter who need
Counseling for spouse abuse issues but who do not need or want
emergency shelter. Currently, our counselor is able to maintain
a caseload of over fifty clients per year, but nearly five women
each week are placed on a waiting list or referred to other
agencies because of SPARC's lack of out-of-shelter resources and
inability to meet the demand. As knowledge of SPARC's services
grows, so does the demand for services whether or not these
services can be provided. By increasing out-of-shelter counseling
for men, women, and families, SPARC will be more able to meet the
3. To increase SPARC's visibility through an extensive community
development program. This objective would serve two purposes:
(a) to develop stronger linkages with agencies centrally involved
with spouse abuse issues (namely law enforcement, legal agencies,
and hospitals); and (b) to create a broader fundraising base in
SAlmost all battered women have direct contact with the hospital
emergency rooms and/or law enforcement agencies while living in
an abusive relationship. However, personnel in these institutions
are often the least educated about the issues and dynamics of
spouse abuse. Because spouse abuse and the battered woman's
syndrome are very frustrating to deal with, battered women are
often mistreated, blamed for their victimization, and denied
their victimization, and denied their human and legal rights.
For instance, it is virtually impossible for a woman living in
Alachua County to obtain a restraining order although access to
this petition is provided by Florida State Law. Police officers
and lawyers continue to discourage battered women from filing
complaints and pressing charges against their husbands even though
spousal battery is against the law, and even though legal inter-
vention has been shown to decrease the incidence of spousal battery.
Expansion of SPARC's community development program would increase
agencies' understanding of spouse abuse, facilitate advocacy for
battered women, promote human rights, and decrease the incidence
of spouse abuse in the community.
An expanded community development program would also allow
contact with many more service organizations in order to increase
community support of fundraising activities and to encourage
sponsorship of SPARC's programs and goals. Only through increased
public awareness and community support do we hope to reach a greater
number of battered women in Alachua County, provide quality services,
and approach our goal of a non-violent community.
Spouse abuse has only recently been identified as a problem of
national importance which pervades every socio-economic segment of
our population. Recent studies.indicate that 50 percent of all adult
women will become the victims of spouse abuse at some point in their
lives. The family unit, usually associated with love, support, and
intimacy, is often a battlefield. Women are twice as likely to be
assaulted or murdered in their homes than anywhere else.
Women remain in abusive relationships not because they enjoy
' being battered but because of a complex of psychological and socio-
logical reasons identified as the battered woman syndrome. Frequently,
battered women lack the occupational skills of financial resources
necessary to begin new lives and to support themselves and their
children. In addition, they often lack the self-esteem and confidence
to overcome the debilitative effects of isolation and abuse.
SPARC remains committed to addressing these problems and providing
services and resources for families experiencing these problems. With
continued effort, we hope to eventually alleviate the conditions which
perpetuate these problems.