At a Congressional Briefing in April 2015, the Avon Foundation released the Avon-funded NO MÁS Study, the most comprehensive study of domestic violence and sexual assault in the U.S. Latin@ community to date. The findings demonstrated an urgent need for increased awareness, conversation, and education around domestic violence and sexual assault, with an emphasis on what bystanders can do to prevent violence and help victims. To meet the need for increased awareness and education, the Avon Foundation announced $1.5 million in grants at the end of 2015 to support domestic violence organizations serving the Latin@ community in the U.S.
Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation
One Avon-funded agency, the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation (SAH) is already making an impact. Within their Margaret’s Place program located at John Adams Middle School in Los Angeles, SAH offers their grant-funded program, El Proyecto Bienestar de la Familia.
On March 5th the Margaret’s Place Counselor launched El Grupo De Mujeres Promoviendo El Bienestarde De La Familia, a domestic violence survivor’s group for parents. Eleven women signed up at the first presentation of this group, and five participants attended each session. Through their positive feedback mothers expressed gratitude and shared their appreciation of the significance of having this space to heal and connect with other survivors.
Overall, there have been more than 200 participants involved in the Joe Torre Safe-at-Home Foundation NO MÁS programs. Additional program components include the Healthy Masculinity Boys Group, a Multi-Modal Art Based Girls Group, and numerous activities and outreach that involve both students and parents.
One component of the NO MÁS program is the Telenovela Project which was launched in March, with help from a local film-making organization, Venice Arts. In this picture, the Margaret’s Place Counselor leads the Safe At Home Peer Leaders in the development of the telenovela script. Being actively engaged as they brainstorm ideas and learn basic storytelling, students remain excited as they develop their ideas about the portrayal of domestic violence messaging within this telenovela script.
During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in February, the NO MÁS program provided an opportunity for the Joe Torre Safe At Home Peer Leaders to run a two-week long awareness campaign. The campaign informed students about teen dating violence, how they can get help, and how they can help friends. Taking part in one awareness activity to create Love Is/ Love Is Not banners, these middle school students are filling in hearts that describe healthy or unhealthy relationship qualities.
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Another Avon-funded agency, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), is also receiving positive feedbacks from the community, professionals and Latinas who have been involved in their three-tiered outreach initiative.
Veronica Ortiz, MA, EdS, the main presenter from RWJUH’s NO MÁS program, stated, “I feel extremely blessed to be a part of such an empowering movement. The positive feedback that we have been receiving from the Latinas in the community speaks to the great work that we’re doing and the positive impact that we’re having in their lives while making an overall difference in the Latino community. We’re emphasizing the importance of “knowledge is power” and how helping others in their time of need while embracing our cultural values as Latinas is essential. The women feel our passion and dedication to wanting to make a difference and creating a shift in their lives and community overall. These women leave our workshops feeling more empowered and ready to help others feel the same.”
RWJUH held a NO MÁS outreach at a recent Community Unity Fair on June 4th in New Brunswick, NJ. The photos show Veronica Ortiz interacting with Latinas and promoting the upcoming Tier I workshops within the NO MÁS campaign.
Tier I is a Between Women/ Entre Mujeres info session that provides free face-to-face educational session to Latinas on information such as how to report abuse to authorities when the victim or the perpetrator are undocumented and how to access services to help victims gain safety. Legal and general information about domestic/ sexual violence and where Latinas can get help with these issues were also provided in Tier I.
Tier II, Domestic Violence Has No Place in Our Community/La violencia doméstica no tiene lugar en nuestra comunidad, consist of similar content as Tier I, but this info session is designed for outreach workers, professionals, clergy, key lay people, etc. with more in-depth information on barriers and effects of DV/SV on the populations that is being served.
The Unveiling Ceremony of the Tier III, a community-wide public awareness campaign called the Somos Orquidea: A Violence Against Women – Know Your Rights Campaign, was held in New Brunswick, NJ on June 10th, where over 85 community organizations were represented. The photo (left) shows the main presenter of the program, Veronica Ortiz, MA, EdS, on the left, and survivor Isabel Colon on the right, who shared her story of survival and overcoming abuse during the event.
During the six months of their program, the RWJUH NO MÁS team has reached out and presented to numerous Latin@ organizations and community-based groups. “Many of these groups have said that the Latinas they serve have returned following the presentations and have been more open about expressing their feelings on this subject,” said Elaine Hewins, CSW, DVS, Domestic Violence Education and Awareness Program Coordinator with RWJ’s Community Health Promotion Program. “Others have commented that the information provided has been innovative and meaningful, serving as the perfect complement to a discussion of the community resources available to individuals.”