1987 1988 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
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 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
II. Victims Served
During the fiscal year 1987-1988 SPARC served 128
women, and 151 children, for a total of 2,416 resident days.
During the same period, 331 units of case management, 3,454 units
of counseling (an increase of 82% over the previous year), 129
units of victim advocacy and 300 units of children's services.
Through SPARC's hotline, 4,339 calls (an increase of
21% over the previous year) were received during fiscal year
1987-1988. Information and referral was provided 3,451 times for
and increase of 66% over the previous year.
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 44 times for 390 individuals.
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 domestic
violence. SPARC is a grassroots organization founded by
community residents who were concerned about the lack of
resources for victims of domestic violence. SPARC plays an
important role in the community by identifying the needs of
battered women and their children. Without advocacy by SPARC,
victims of domestic violence would continue to be ignored by
their communities. SPARC brings the problem of battering out of
the closet and places the issue of domestic violence in its
proper perspective: victims of domestic 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
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 children, and must not have a serious alcohol or drug
problem which would cause a medical emergency. In 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 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 advocate for the woman to attain her own goals regarding
employment, child care, legal needs, housing, etc.
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
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.
SPARC offers a weekly "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 ten paid positions. Eight were full-time and included the
Executive Director, the Counseling Director, the Shelter
Services Director, the Counselor, the Resident Manager, Weekend
Shelter Supervisor, Administrative Assistant,and Children's
Coordinator. Two part-time positions include the Case Management
Coordinator and the Volunteer Coordinator. In addition, SPARC
has maintained a roster of 30-35 active volunteers throughout the
FEDERAL FAM. VIOLENCE 12,500
UNITED WAY-ALACHUA CO. 69,000
UNITED WAY-COLUMBIA CO. 1,500
ALACHUA COUNTY 10,000
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.
A need for a full time Children's Services Coordinator has been
identified for several years. The Board of Directors has
increased the existing position to full time, effective July
1988. Since children are two thirds of the shelter population,
the needs of children in the shelter have not been adequately met
due to the fact that the Coordinator worked only half time. Some
assistance was provided by volunteers, interns and practicum
students. Even with a full time children's coordinator, the need
for regular daycare will not be met. Requests for providing
trainers to work with high school classes in their "Skills for
Violence-free Relationships" curriculum continue to increase. The
children's coordinator has been very successful in networking
with service providers in the community to improve services for
children at SPARC.
The present shelter facility is not adequate. This year the
Board of Directors has continued to investigate the possibility
of rehabilitating SPARC's existing building. Effective in July
of 1988 SPARC has received over $52,000 in funds to connect the
shelter to the city sewer system and add a new kitchen. Raising
funds to add additional beds and improve the facility will remain
a goal for raising additional funds.
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.
At the end of the fiscal year, the Board had recruited five Black
members of the Board to begin meeting its goal.
Another identified goal is to increase outreach to the rural
communities in our service area. Efforts towards meeting this
goal are being continued in Columbia County. Ultimately SPARC
intends to develop a network of safehomes to shelter women in
each of the eleven counties in our area. At the end of the
fiscal year, an active group of volunteers had been recruited in
Columbia County and are meeting regularly. A safehome provider
has been recruited and trained in Gilchrist County.
A goal to increase our clerical capabilities by raising
funds to hire a half time clerical assistant has not yet been
reached. The Board has approved funds to hire an assistant for 10
hours per week in the next fiscal year. As our program has grown,
we have had growing clerical needs which have been difficult to
meet with volunteers. During this fiscal year clerical work was
provided by one regular volunteer who worked six hours per week.
SPARC has expanded its counseling services to reach battered
women in prison. Weekly or bi-weekly counseling groups are being
provided in two institutions. A third institution will be added
after the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Finally, a batterer's counseling group was instituted this
year in cooperation with a private therapist. Additional work to
obtain court referrals to this group is an ongoing goal.
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.