1984-1985 ANNUAL REPORT
Sexual & Physical Abuse Resource Center (SPARC)
I. History of SPARC
The Sexual and Physical Abuse Resource Center (SPARC) has its ori-
gins 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 numbers of calls RICS received from vic-
tims 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
In March, 1977, RICS applied for and received three positions through
the Comprehensive Employment & Training Act (CETA) for a one-year project
on domestic violence. The project provided counseling, information, refer-
rals, victim advocacy services, and community education. Clients were re-
ferred to local agencies for shelter (Pleasant House, Salvation Army).
However, these were unsuitable for several reasons: they had limits of a
three to four day stay, they did not offer counseling or a supportive
atmosphere for women, or they housed transients creating an unhealthy envi-
ronment 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 pre-
sent 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 Network and was selected to send a delegate to rep-
resent the Southeastern 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 six-
teen 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.)
II. Clients Served
During the fiscal year 1984-1985 SPARC served 116 women, 139 child-
ren, and two dependent adults in its emergency shelter, for a total of
3,033 resident days. During the same period 654 units of case management,
214 units of individual counseling, 151 units of group counseling, 110 units
of co-op, 69 units of emergency food, and 177 units of transportation were
provided to shelter residents. Out of shelter, sixty women and fifteen men
were seen in individual, group, and/or couples counseling for a total of
469 hours of treatment time being offered.
Through SPARC's hotline, phone counseling was provided 546 times dur-
ing fiscal year 1984-1985. In addition, information and referral was pro-
vided 1290 times. Case management, which involved phone calls, was pro-
vided 1001 times to SPARC's clients. Finally, 546 calls for admission were
screened during the year.
Community education and training sessions were provided 67 times during
the course of fiscal year 1984-1985. Volunteer training was provided four
times during the year, for a total of eighty hours. (Each session included
twenty hours of training.)
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 grass-
roots 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 communities.
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 edu-
cational and preventive components of its programs.
IV. Operational Procedures
The shelter and emergency hotline are covered on a 24-hour basis by
paid professional staff and trained volunteers. During the regular work
day, when the crisis line is the most active, professionally trained staff
cover the phones and are available to the families in residence. Between
5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. an evening Case Advocate provides the same func-
tion in the shelter. At 10:00 p.m. the emergency hotline is call forwarded
to a staff-person's home or to the home of a trained volunteer who has a
staff person available to her as back-up. The Resident Manager is respon-
sible for responding to any emergencies that may arise at the shelter be-
tween 10:00 p.m. and 8:30 a.m.
Admissions to the shelter are carefully screened to determine risk,
history or threat of abuse, availability of alternative resources in friends
and family, and functional level. Clients must be ambulatory, able to care
for themselves and their dependents, and must not have an alcohol or drug
problem serious enough to warrant a possible medical emergency. In cases
of intoxication, clients are referred for detox prior to being admitted to
the shelter. In every case, clients are screened directly by phone, despite
the referral source.
The shelter's location is confidential and clients are picked up at a
neutral location and transported to the shelter on admission. Under no
circumstances will a staff person visit a victim's home and attempt to
intervene in a battering incident. SPARC will contact appropriate law
enforcement personnel in response to "abuse in process", but only at the
On arrival at the shelter, clients are afforded time to settle in,
rest, and in severe cases recuperate after having been injured. Only the
most basic paperwork is completed at admission (often a time of crisis,)
including a release of liability and vital demographics. Once the client
has had a chance to get acclimated,-usually at 48 hours, a more comprehen-
sive intake is completed and a case advocate assigned. The advocate's goal
is to assist the woman in developing a plan, and serves as a broker/case
manager regarding employment, legal, child care, housing, and other resour-
ces. The advocate is knowledgeable about community systems and acts as an
enabler in helping the woman to attain her own goals.
The support 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 responsibility for the battering.
Peer support breaks down the often deep seated feelings of guilt and power-
lessness experienced by victims.
Residents are expected to share in housekeeping responsibilities,
negotiated weekly at house meetings. They are also encouraged to actively
participate in overall shelter operation, and their input is considered
important in the policy formation process.
A client's length of stay is determined by her case plan, which is
reviewed weekly by the shelter staff. At departure, a follow-up appoint-
ment is arranged, and ongoing contact through individual, group, or family
Out of shelter clients are referred to the Counseling Services Coor-
dinator and seen on a first come-first served basis at SPARC's newly estab-
lished outreach office. Because SPARC employs only one full-time therapist
who is unable to accommodate the demand for services, clients often wait to
be seen in counseling for several weeks. SPARC maintains an average wait-
ing list of 15 clients at all times.
SPARC views group as the treatment modality of choice, both in an
effort to maximize therapeutic efficiency and because group counters the
battered women's predictable guilt, isolation, and self-blame. Couples
who request dyadic counseling are typically seen individually for a
time to assist them in developing the skills necessary to enter marital
SPARC presently offers two "drop-in" groups for battered women, one
in the evening and one in the morning, once a week.
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 accompanies 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. Twenty-four hour hotline staffed by a combination of paid pro-
fessionals and trained paraprofessional volunteers who provide
crisis intervention, counseling, information, and referral;
2. Fifteen-bed emergency residential facility for functional
adult women and their dependent children;
3. Individual counseling for both in-shelter and out-of-shelter
4. Group counseling for both in-shelter and out-of-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 orga-
nizations, 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
At the end of the fiscal year, SPARC's staff consisted of nine
paid positions. Three were full-time and included the Executive Director,
the Counseling Services Coordinator, and the Shelter Services Coordinator.
Six part-time positions included the Children's Coordinator, the Admini-
strative Assistant, a Counselor, the Resident Manager, a Case Advocate
and the Weekend Shelter Aide. In addition, SPARC has maintained a
roster of 20-25 active volunteers throughout the year.
VII. Program Needs and Goals
In keeping with our overall mission to move beyond crisis interven-
tion into the realm of social change, SPARC's objectives for 1984-85
included the following:
1. To secure separate office space for SPARC's administrative
activities and out-of-shelter program, away from the shelter's
In January of 1985 when the goal was established, it was very
difficult for SPARC to achieve high visibility in the community,
given the need for strict confidentiality.
Many people were still not aware of SPARC's availability, despite
the program's increasing community.education efforts. Others
may have known of SPARC and wanted to make some kind of contribu-
tion to our efforts, but because of risks to our residents were
prohibited from having any contact with the programmatic site.
A public office was seen as a vehicle for SPARC to better serve
battered women and the community, as well as a means to greatly
enhance fundraising efforts.
In addition, SPARC's out-of-shelter counseling program had
already outgrown the donated office space SPARC had been
utilizing over the past three years. In FY 1984-85 SPARC's
Counseling Coordinator served 75 clients out-of-shelter, a
50% increase over the previous year. A victim's support
group serving 8-10 clients had also been meeting for some
time, and the need for a second group already existed.
Finally, because SPARC has been able to provide an enriching
practicum or internship experience for a number of students
at the University of Florida and Florida State University,
we were assured of having advanced graduate students in
counseling or social work around the calendar year to assist
with out-of-shelter programming. To accommodate such expansion,
SPARC needed office space that is accessible to our staff,
rather than the arrangement of scheduling space when it was not
already being utilized by the private practitioners whose
office we used.
2. To expand our visibility and advocacy efforts both in the
criminal justice system and the health care systems by funding
a full-time Victim Advocate Coordinator. The Coordinator would
act as a liaison between SPARC and the above mentioned institu-
tions, and provide a multiplicity of services to battered women
who present in those settings.
Many battered women have direct contact with hospitals and/or
law enforcement agencies while living in an abusive relation-
ship. Personnel in such settings are often the least educated
about the issues and dynamics of spouse abuse. Because family
violence and the battered woman's syndrome are very frustrating
to deal with, battered women are often blamed for their victimi-
zation and denied their human and legal rights. Police officers
and attorneys continue to discourage battered women from filing
complaints and pressing charges against husbands even though
spousal battery is a crime and legal intervention has been
shown to decrease the incidence of violence. Expansion of
SPARC's advocacy in the community would increase other agencies'
understanding of the issues, facilitate interagency cooperation,
promote victim rights and ultimately decrease the incidence of
battering in the community.
An expanded community development program would also enable
linkage with many more service organizations in order to increase
community support of fundraising activities and sponsorship of
SPARC's program and goals. Only through increased public aware-
ness and community support do we hope to reach a greater number
of battered women within the District, provide quality services
and approach our goal of a non-violent community.
3. To further expand our out-of-shelter counseling program and to
establish a program for batterers, based on a self-help,educa-
tional group model.
Similar projects exist in other parts of Florida and the nation,
and a combination of Court ordered supervision and a highly
structured group has proven to be effective in changing learned
aggressive behavior patterns.
Effective June 1, 1985 SPARC had been able to realize its goal (1)
of establishing a separate outreach office, in part as a consequence of
re-negotiating its lease with the City of Gainesville. In April of 1985
the City agreed to waive SPARC's shelter-rent in lieu of our making
repairs and improvements to the facility.
In September of 1985 the Alachua County Commission approved a one-
time allocation to SPARC to assist us in establishing the Victim Advocacy
program for battered women (goal 2 above). A proposal has also been sub-
mitted to the Ms. Foundation to supplement the County allocation.
If additional monies are secured,a full-time Victim Advocate Coordin-
ator will be hired. If no additional funding is recieved, SPARC will hire
an Advocate to respond to the local emergency rooms on an on-call basis
Finally, SPARC has also been approved to recieve $3,000.00 from
Santa Fe's Community Education program (CIS) to establish a batterer's
program, the Violence Intervention Project (goal 3 above)for a six month
pilot period. SPARC will continue to explore other avenues for funding
V.I.P. on an on-going basis and will establish fees for service for both
voluntary and Court-ordered clients referred to the project.