1986 1987 ANNUAL REPORT
Sexual & Physical Abuse Resource Center (SPARC)
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 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
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
In 1978, SPARC was certified and funded by the state of
Florida to provide services to HRS District IIIA. This district
includes eleven counties, Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie,
Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Putnam, Suwannee, and Union.
II. Victims Served
During the fiscal year 1986-1987 SPARC served 117 women,
164 children and one dependent adult in its emergency shelter, for
a total of 3,926 resident days. During the same period, 384 units
of case management, 1,895 units of counseling, and 174 units of
transportation were provided to women and children.
Through SPARC's hotline, 3,602 calls were received during
fiscal year 1986-1987. Information and referral was provided 2,077
Community education sessions were provided 72 times for
1,252 individuals during the course of fiscal year 1986-1987. This
figure does not include the number of individuals who were reached
through television and radio presentations. Volunteer training was
provided four times during the year, for a total of eighty hours.
Law enforcement and professional training was provided 20 times for
III. Unique Needs 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/or 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 of Weekend Shelter Supervisor 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 phone.
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 48
hours 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,
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
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
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 contact is arranged, and ongoing assistance through
individual or group counseling encouraged.
Victims who do not request shelter are referred to the
Outreach Office and may choose to attend a group or individual
counseling session on a first come-first served basis.Couples who
request dyadic counseling are seen individually until they develop
the skills to safely begin marital counseling.
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 Description of Services Provided
SPARC serves battered women and their children 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
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 referral;
2. Fifteen-bed emergency residential facility for functional
adult women and their dependent children;
3. Individual counseling for in-shelter and out-of-shelter
4. Group counseling for both in-shelter and out-of-shelter
5. Group counseling for battered women presently serving
time in prison. A first phase and a second phase
group are offered;
6. Case advocacy, management, and follow-up;
7. Emergency transportation;
8. Emergency food;
9. Children's program for residents of the shelter. This
includes a parenting group for mothers as well as
developmental play, counseling, and advocacy for
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 domestic violence as well as in skilled
assistance with all above-mentioned services.
At the end of the fiscal year, SPARC's staff consisted of
eleven paid positions. Eight were full-time and included the
Executive Director, the Counseling and Outreach Services Director, the
Shelter Services Director, the Counselor, the Resident Manager,
Weekend Shelter Supervisor, Administrative Assistant, Three part-time
positions include the Children's Coordinator, Case Management
Coordinator and the Volunteer Coordinator. In addition, SPARC has
maintained a roster of 30-35 active volunteers throughout the year.
FEDERAL FAM. VIOLENCE 11,621
UNITED WAY-ALACHUA CO. 59,000
UNITED WAY-COLUMBIA CO. 1,500
ALACHUA COUNTY 8,500
SPECIAL EVENTS 8,579
VII. Program Needs and Goals
Program needs are varied. Additional transportation for
shelter residents is an ongoing need due to the isolated location
of the shelter and the limited bus service. Volunteers have
assisted SPARC residents with transportation whenever possible.
An important need is for a full time Children's Services
Coordinator. The needs of children in the shelter have not been
adequately met due to the fact that the Coordinator works only
half time. Some assistance has been provided through the use of
volunteers, interns and practicum students. However, there has
been an ongoing need for regular daycare, as well as additional
work with individual children. Requests for providing trainers
to work with high school classes in their "Skills for Violence-
free Relationships" curriculum have increased and have placed
additional demands upon the time of the Coordinator. A primary
goal will be to find funding to increase the Children's Services
Coordinator to full time.
The present shelter facility is not adequate. This year the
Board of Directors has begun investigating the possibility of
rehabilitating SPARC's existing building.
SPARC has identified a goal to begin working more directly
with the Black community to recruit more Black volunteers, Board
members, and staff members. As a result of this work, SPARC hopes
to increase our fundraising capability in the Black community.
Another identified goal is to increase outreach to the rural
communities in our service area. Efforts towards meeting this
goal have already begun in Columbia County. Ultimately SPARC
intends to develop a network of safehomes to shelter women in
each of the eleven counties in our area.
A final goal is to increase our clerical capabilities by
raising funds to hire a half time clerical assistant. As our
program has grown, we have had growing clerical needs which have
been difficult to meet with volunteers.
VIII. Other Programs Serving Victims of Domestic Violence
There are no formally incorporated programs in our service
area, of which we are aware, that are specifically designed to
serve victims of domestic violence. Of course, agencies or
services such as the Rape Victim Advocate Program, Crisis Line,
Information and Referral, AFDC, Food Stamps, Displaced
Homemakers, JTPA, Mental Health Associations, various counseling
centers and day-care centers provide have ancillary services for
victims of domestic violence. SPARC continues to work to develop
services for batters in the community.