SUMMARY AND OVERVIEW
The Sexual and Physical Abuse Resource Center was established to meet
the needs of battered women and their children by implementing services
designed to alleviate physical abuse and the accompanying cycle of
violence. SPARC maintains the following general objectives in this
1. Provide a 24 hour hotline, an emergency shelter facility, and
2. Educate the community at large regarding the issue of domestic
3. Initiate prevention services by developing programs in the
community designed to create social change.
To meet these objectives, SPARC provides the following services:
1. A 24 hour hotline staffed by trained volunteers and staff members,
who provide crisis intervention, counseling and information and
2. A 30 bed emergency shelter, which provides shelter, emergency
food, transportation and personnel items.
3. A children's program.
4. Community and professional education and training.
SPARC will provide immediate refuge for victims of domestic violence
and short-term support and assistance for shelter residents and victims
currently living in the community. Such support, counseling, and direct
assistance will provide clients with the opportunity to explore and create
alternatives to their current life situations. Educational programs will
produce a more sensitive community with regard to the needs of victims
and will encourage a more peaceful resolution to human conflict.
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 the number 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 and 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 and 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 it's name to the Sexual and Physical Abuse Resource
Center (SPARC) to reflect the organization's broader mission. SPARC
applied to lease the 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 a former board member, Lynda Dekold and her
husband Don. The first victim was admitted 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). After over 11 years of service in September 1989, the city of
Gainesville donated the shelter building and property to SPARC.
In 1979, SPARC applied for and was granted state funding. As a
result, SPARC received an official mandate to provide services to HRS
District III. At present, our funding comes from Marriage License Fee
Trust Fund, United Way of Alachua and Putnam Counties, Alachua
County, Federal Family Violence Funds and our own fundraising. The
Marriage License Fee Trust Fund monies are administered by HRS and we
are mandated to serve the four counties of Alachua, Bradford, Putnam and
Union in District III.
SPARC'S services havecontinued to expand. In addition to our
shelter, we have an out-of-shelter program which includes support groups
and batterer's treatment and victim advocacy program. SPARC also
provides a 24 hour hotline, information and referral, agency in-service
training, community education and a volunteer training program. In 1985,
SPARC opened an outreach office in Gainesville which houses the
administrative staff, and the out-of-shelter programs. Having a public
location helps keep SPARC'S services well known in the community. In
the past, SPARC has developed a program for counseling batterers, an
outreach program and a program for counseling incarcerated victims. The
Executive Director is the President of the Florida Coalition Against
Domestic Violence (FCADV) and recently served on-the Governor's
Domestic Violence Task Force.
Community support for SPARC continues to grow as evidenced by
the local TV station choosing SPARC for its holiday project, the local
United Way's increasing financial support and the ever increasing demands
for SPARC'S services. SPARC served 16 counties in District III with its
first contract but present service extends to four counties. A concerted
effort was made in the past year and a half to develop stronger networks
within the four counties. Small steps were taken to develop relationships
within each county as it seemed appropriate. Initial steps were taken to
just provide information as to our services, to strategic persons within each
county. Information packets were mailed to designated persons from law
enforcement, schools, churches and legal service in each county, updating
them on the available services at SPARC. Each law enforcement agency
was sent information on the legislation that was passed in July 1994 and a
domestic violence training packet.
Information was given these agencies about our availability to provide free
professional education, community education and inservice training as part
of our services as a Domestic Violence Center. In October of 1994 during
Domestic Violence Awareness Month, information packets were sent out
to the educational, religious and service groups in the four counties with
materials for display and information and dissemination, during the month.
In addition, invitations to our Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Luncheon were sent in October to representatives in each county detailing
our specific services for clarification. Our newsletter is published
quarterly and copies were forwarded again to the counties for information.
The shelter and emergency hotline are covered on a 24 hour basis by
trained paid and volunteer staff.
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 able to take care of
themselves and their children and must not have a serious alcohol or drug
problem which would cause a medical emergency. In cases of alcohol or
drug abuse, 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 progress" at a victim's request since
domestic violence is a crime.
Upon arrival at the shelter, victims are afforded 72 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 72 hours, a case manager is assigned. The
case manager's goal is to assist the woman in developing her plan. The
case manager 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 assure 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 contact is
arranged and ongoing assistance available through support groups.
We at SPARC recognize that the services of our agency and those at
the Rape Victim Advocate Program are linked both through history and
through purpose. Therefore, SPARC agrees to shelter rape victims in
need of a place to stay under the following criteria:
1. Rape victims must be referred by an advocate of the Rape Victim
2-. Rape victims must be female and legally adult.
3. Rape victims remain the primary responsibility of the RVAP.
SPARC'S responsibility is limited to providing emergency food and
shelter for up to 72 hours. All medical needs must be taken care of
prior to shelter admission. Counseling responsibilities remain with
4. The advocate must initially screen the victim to determine
appropriateness of shelter placement.
5. After determining that the victim is appropriate, the Advocate should
call the hotline number to refer the victim. SPARC will need to
speak directly to the victim and inform her about the shelter.
6. SPARC has the right not to accept rape victims to the shelter when
bed space is limited, or when SPARC has determined that the client
is inappropriate for shelter. Clients who are drug or alcohol
dependent or mentally or physically unable to supervise and care for
themselves are not appropriate for SPARC shelter placement.
During 1992-93, SPARC initiated 2 advocacy programs, one in
conjunction with the State Attorney's office, to assist victims who wish to
drop charges against their partners. An orientation session is convened
weekly and personnel from SPARC assist the State Attorney staff in
counseling the victims.
In addition, a court advocacy program, R.O.A.P. was initiated to
assist petitioners requesting permanent injunctions from their abusive
A new batterer's intervention program was established with our
agency and a treatment program will begin in 1994-95.
During the fiscal year 1993-94, SPARC served 175 women and 239
children for a total of 1502 resident days.
Through SPARC'S hotline, 4149 calls were received during the
fiscal year or 1993-94. Information and referral was provided 2065 times
and the state wide hotline yielded regular calls for information and/or
counseling from all of our counties on the average of 400 per month.
Community education sessions were provided for individuals during
the course of fiscal year 1992-93. This included individuals who were
reached through television and radio presentations. As well, volunteer
training was provide regularly during the year for a total of 344
volunteers, which yielded 3203 hours or 9 hours per volunteer per month.
24 Law enforcement and professional training programs was provided to
agencies and groups within our four counties.
UNIQUE NEEDS BEING MET
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 or 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 continue to develop the educational and preventative
components of its programs.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES PROVIDED
SPARC serves battered women and their children by developing programs ar
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 ar
violent behavior toward women. By challenging these attitudes, which appear in
legal, financial, educational, and health care arenas, SPARC hopes to eliminate far
In light of SPARC'S mission, the following services have been provided in
1. 24 hour hotline, staffed by a combination of trained, paid and volunteer staff
who provide crisis intervention, counseling, information and referral.
2. A 30 bed emergency residential facility for functional, adult women and their
3. Group counseling Tor both in-shelter and out-of-shelter victims.
4. Case advocacy, management and follow-up.
5. Emergency transportation.
6. Emergency food.
7. Community education to professional groups, community organizations, and
8. In-service training to other community agencies dealing with the problem of
9. Volunteer training in the theories, issues and dynamics of domestic violence,
well as, in skilled assistance with all the above mentioned services.
10. Advocacy programs to assist victims in obtaining information and service
relating to their domestic violence cases.
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 are used to assist SPARC residents
with transportation whenever possible, but the risk of liability has caused
the SPARC board to reconsider that transportation policy. Taxicabs are
Another identified goal is to increase outreach to the rural
communities in our service area. Efforts towards meeting this goal are
In the beginning, all the counties were included in the dissemination
of information and updates to keep them current as to the services that
SPARC provides. Then a more concerted effort was started with the four
counties, to build better relationships and an expansion of the network of
services to victims of domestic violence. As a result of these efforts and
personal contacts with different counties, training programs for law,
enforcement personnel have been held in Bradford, Union and Putnam
Church inservices have been held in and around Alachua and Putnam
Counties. Participation in Victims's Rights's Week in Bradford and
Alachua County have been an annual event.
A Domestic Violence Task Force was established in Bradford
County with a variety of representatives to discuss how to improve
services to these communities, since the incidence of violent crimes had
increased. A series of monthly meetings were held to discuss possible
ways of expanding services in the area. The general consensus was that
although a shelter would be ideal, there was little, if any community
support for a shelter at that time.
The final decision was to develop a network of trained people, who could
work with victims locally with support groups, volunteer drivers and
increasing the number of people with local information about domestic
violence and the services available to victims. SPARC conducted a series
of lectures to train a cadre of volunteers from the area in order to enhance
resources in the community. Referrals from these areas increased since
that time and cooperation between the State Attorney's Office and the
Victim Advocate in the Sheriffs Department.
Palatka County services have increased too. We became part of the
United Way and initiated a support group in the community. Recent
examples of service include requests for housing for rape victims, contact
with medical facilities for emergency shelter of injured victims of domestic
violence and regular transporting of clients from Putnam county to
Alachua County for shelter. In all, service to the areas in and around
Putnam have increased and a better communication link has been
A visit to the Putnam County Law Enforcement Council in 1993,
resulted in training for officers. We reviewed SPARC'S procedures for
admission to shelter, service options and availability of service in
professional education. This resulted in the revision of their domestic
violence information packet and procedures. As a result, we now receive
their domestic violence reports regularly, are dispatched hotline calls and
recently even had transportation provided for clients to the shelter by
deputies. The focus on sexual assault victims has increased in this area
too and we are now presently part of a continuum of services through the
State Attorney's Victim Advocate Program.
We attempted to clarify Another Way's procedure/policy for
admission to their shelter and information on their transition house. We
have regularly referred clients to Another Way and feel that they refer
clients to us as well. Many Levy County clients seek to come to Alachua
County for safety reasons and we try to cooperate with Another Way to
provide this service to their referred clients, through a process established
Finally a batterer's counseling group was instituted in cooperation
with a private therapist. Additional work to obtain court referrals to this
group is an ongoing goal.
It has taken some time to develop the programs of SPARC, to the
point that we could branch out and develop services in the outlying
counties more directly, but our new relationship with the State Attorney's
Victim Advocate Program, has increased the potential of that. We have
met regularly to discuss ways we can facilitate the outlying areas and give
better service to victims there. Together with the Director of Alachua
County Services. we have developed a coordinated advocacy program
which will cover both civil and criminal domestic violence cases for the
8th Judicial Circuit Court. Our regular victim services providers meeting,
facilitates communication and coordination of services.