Title: Sexual and Physical Abuse Resource Center (SPARC) History and Documents
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00077458/00016
 Material Information
Title: Sexual and Physical Abuse Resource Center (SPARC) History and Documents
Physical Description: Archival
Creator: SPARC
Publisher: SPARC
Publication Date: 1985-86
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00077458
Volume ID: VID00016
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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Full Text


Sexual & Physical Abuse Resource Center (SPARC)

I. HistgorofSPARC

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 soon began receiving phone calls from

battered women. As media coverage of spouse abuse

increased, so did 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 gained three positions through the

Comprehensive Employment & Training Act (CETA) for a

one-year project on domestic violence. The project

provided counseling, information, referrals, victim

advocacy, and community education. Victims were referred

to local agencies for shelter (Pleasant House, Salvation

Army). However, these were unsuitable for several reasons:

Victims could stay for only three to four days, they did

not offer counseling or a supportive atmosphere for

women, they housed transients who created 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 member,

Lynda Dekold and her husband Don. The first victim was

admitted March 11. The shelter was officially opened on

March 30, 1978 with a dedication and ribbon-cutting

ceremony. SPARC became a charter member of the Refuge

Information Network (RIN) and was selected to send a

delegate to represent the Southeastern region on the

steering committee of the National Coalition Against

Domestic Violence (NCADV).

In 1979, SPARC was granted state funding. As a result,

SPARC was certified to provide services to the sixteen

counties of HRS District III. At present, we receive

funds from United Way in two counties, Victims of Crime

Act (VOCA), and the Marriage License Fee Trust Fund and are

mandated to serve eleven counties (Alachua, Bradford,

Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy,

Putnam, Suwannee, and Union).

II. Victims Served

During the fiscal year 1985-1986 SPARC served 121

women, 158 children and two dependent adults in its

emergency shelter, for a total of 4,077 resident days.

During the same period 1,273 units of case management, 322

units of individual counseling, 183 units of group

counseling, 431 units of co-op, 150 units of emergency

food, and 174 units of transportation were provided to

shelter residents. Out of shelter, 91 women and 26 men

were seen in individual, group, and/or couples counseling

for a total of 690 hours of counseling being offered.

Through SPARC's hotline, phone counseling was provided

711 times during fiscal year 1985-1986. In addition,

information and referral was provided 1719 times.

Community education and training sessions were provided

69 times during the course of fiscal 1985-1986. Volunteer

training was provided four times during the year, for a

total of eighty hours. (Each session included twenty hours

of training).

III. UngueNeeds Being _Met

SPARC is the only program in the Department of Health

and Rehabilitative 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 an 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 problem of battering out of the closet and places the

issue of family violence in its proper perspective:

victims of family violence are a concern 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

The shelter and emergency hotline are covered on a

24-hour basis by trained paid and volunteer staff. From

8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. trained, paid and volunteer staff

cover the phones and are available to families in

residence. At 10:00 p.m. the emergency hotline is call

forwarded to the home of a trained volunteer who has a paid

staff person available to her as a back-up. The Resident

Manager or Weekend Shelter Aide are responsible for

responding to any emergencies that may arise at the shelter

between 10:00 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and

throughout the weekend.

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. Victims must be ambulatory, able to care for

themselves and their dependents, and must not have a

serious alcohol or drug problem which would cause a medical

emergency. In most cases of intoxication, victims are

referred for detox prior to being admitted to the shelter.

In every case, the victim herself is screened directly by


The shelter's location is confidential and victims are

transported from a neutral location to the shelter upon

admission. Under no circumstances will a staff person

visit a victim's home to intervene in a battering incident.

SPARC will contact the appropriate law enforcement

department in response to "abuse in process" at the

victim's request.

Upon arrival at the shelter, victims are afforded time

to settle in, rest, and in severe cases, recuperate from

injuries. Basic paperwork is completed at admission (often

a time of crisis,) including a release of liability and

vital demographics. Once the victim has had a chance to

become acclimated, within 48 hours, a comprehensive intake

is completed and a case advocate assigned. The advocate's

goal is to assist the woman in developing her plan. The

advocate is knowledgeable about community systems and acts

as an enabler for the woman to attain her own goals

regarding employment, child care, legal needs, housing,


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 deep seated feelings of guilt and

powerlessness 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 victim's length of stay is determined by her case

plan, which is reviewed weekly by the shelter staff. At

departure, a follow-up appointment is arranged, and ongoing

contact through individual, group, or family counseling


Out-of-shelter victims are referred to the Counseling

Services Coordinator and seen on a first come-first served

basis at SPARC's outreach office. Because. SPARC employs

only one full-time therapist who is unable to

accommodate the demand for services, victims often wait to

be seen in counseling for several weeks. SPARC maintains

an average waiting list of 15 victims.

SPARC views group as the best treatment modality

because groups are efficient and they counter the battered

woman's guilt, isolation, and self-blame. Couples who

request dyadic counseling are typically seen individually

until they develop the skills to safely begin marital

counsel ing.

SPARC offers a "drop-in" group for battered women in

the evening. SPARC also offers a weekly morning time for

individual victims who "drop-in".

V. Detailed Descrietion of Services Provided

SPARC serves battered women and their families by

developing programs and services designed to alleviate

battering and the cycle of violence. 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 appear in legal, financial, educational,

and health care arenas, SPARC hopes to eliminate family


In light of SPARC's mission, the following services are


1. Twenty-four hour hotline staffed by a combination
of trained paid and volunteer staff who provide
crisis intervention, counseling, information and

2. Fifteen-bed emergency residential facility for
functional adult women and their dependent

3. Individual counseling for in-shelter and out-of-
shelter victims;

4. Group counseling for both in-shelter and out-of-
shelter victims;

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 includes a parenting group
for mothers as well as developmental play,
counseling, and advocacy for children;

10. Community education to professional groups,
community 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.

VI. Staffing

At the end of the fiscal year, SPARC's staff consisted

of ten paid positions. Four were full-time and included

the Executive Director, the Counseling Services

Coordinator, the Shelter Services Coordinator and the

Six part-time positions included the

Children's Coordinator, the Administrative Assistant, a

Case Advocate, the Weekend Shelter Aide, and two

Victim Advocates. In addition, SPARC has maintained a

roster of 20-25 active volunteers throughout the year.

VII. Program Needs and Goals

In keeping with the overall mission to move beyond

crisis intervention into the realm of social change,

SPARC's objectives for 1985-1986 included the following:

1. To expand out-of-shelter counseling program to
establish a program for batterers. There is an
on-going need for a program which serves
batterers. In addition, requests for individual
counseling through our out-of-shelter program have
increased until we have stopped taking names for
our waiting list.

2. To explore the possibility of purchasing or
building a new shelter. SPARC has been in the
same location for eight years. There is
discussion of developing the area where the
shelter is located into a public park which
would make our location inappropriate for a
shelter. In addition, there is a need for more
comfortable and more private space for victims.
Staff has increased and office space is

3. To continue to develop our fledging victim
advocacy program in both the hospital and court

4. To provide better coordination, training and
support of volunteers. Volunteers have been
coordinated by a volunteer. Although this has
worked well in the past, increased need for
training and use of volunteers in new areas of
our program requires the regular attention of a
paid staff person.

Resident Manager.

VIII. Summary

1. Through the receipt of a small grant of $3,000.00 SPARC
began to establish its Violence Intervention Project.
We hired an individual to provide a small number of
hours of counseling and program development. However,
it became apparent that the needs of the program
required considerably more hours for development and
coordination with the criminal justice system than we
had expected. The amount of funding provided by the
grant was insufficient.

Instead, we have had contact with a doctoral student
who wishes to develop a batterer's program for the
first year as part of her dissertation. We are working
in close consultation with her. Batterer's groups are
now being held weekly. We will continue to consult
with this program and assist in locating funding for
the year to assure the program's continuation.

2. The Junior Women's Club has taken on SPARC as its main
project for the next two years. We are currently
proposing a challenge to this well established
organization to work towards the purchase or
construction of a shelter. This will be a long term
project which will probably take several years.

3. The Victim Advocacy project has begun by providing
training in two hospital systems. This training will
be developed to assist hospitals in formulating a
protocol which provides support and information to
battered women in the hospital setting.

In the court setting we will be developing training for
courtroom personnel as well as direct advocacy for
victims in the court setting. We expect to increase
volunteer involvement in these areas as well as
incorporate law students as advocates for battered
women in the courtroom. Volunteers have already begun
to accompany victims through the court system.

4. Through reorganizing job descriptions of present staff,
SPARC has created a half-time Volunteer Coordinator
position to provide better recruitment, training and
support for volunteers.


Dependet Adults

1985-1986 x II lSE





Total Resident Days


WHM iHM 2I l




l1os -




- 258

1984-!985 1985-1986 X I RI SE






.8 .

1984-1985 19851986 AINClSE


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