Protecting the underrepresented

      According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2009), Latino migration has grown consistently over the past few decades and is thought of one of the fastest-growing minority groups in the United States. Taking that into consideration, it is imperative that there be more research conducted on domestic violence within Latino populations especially when it comes to the lived experiences of immigrants (Reina, Lohman, & Maldonado, 2014).


     Research conducted by Reina, Lohman and Maldonado (2014), in the Midwest of the United States with Latina immigrant victims’ of domestic violence showed the barriers faced by survivors’ seeking domestic violence services. The findings of their research found six significant themes that often hinder these women from seeking antiviolence services which are:

immigration status, inability to understand violence given cultural norms, feeling ashamed, isolation, lack of language proficiency to a lesser extent, and a lack of knowledge of resources (Reina, Lohman, & Maldonado, 2014).”

   The participants in this study (10 Latina victims of partner abuse) revealed that their immigration status was the biggest factor that influenced their behaviors on pursuing help. Reina, Lohman and Maldonado (2014), came to three conclusions about immigration status:

(a) Abusers often use the threat of immigration to control and power over their victims, which increases her vulnerability to domestic violence

(b) The victims’ immigration status influences her in seeking help services because of the fear to connect with law enforcement and social services, and lastly in regards to immigration status

(c) While there are policies in effect like The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 that prevent undocumented Latina victims or others with unstable placement from being deported, there are still many fallacies among them with regards to their unstable placement in the U.S. (Reina, Lohman, & Maldonado, 2014).

     The current study was conducted on a very small sample and does not wish to make generalizations to all Latina victims from different Latino countries. The purpose of this informative research is to report the observations of the experiences of a vulnerable, marginalized, and very hard to reach group of people to show the importance of more research with a larger population (Reina, Lohman, & Maldonado, 2014).


(Source): Reina, A. S., Lohman, B. J., & Maldonado, M. M. (2014). “He said they’d deport me”: Factors influencing domestic violence help-seeking practices among latina immigrants. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29, 593-615.

Hope is Mutual

     Through the mutual process among domestic violence survivors, domestic violence support workers, and other important people in the lives of victims, hope is inspired. Hope should and needs to be contagious.



      In a Phenomenological study, participants aware of the hopeful people around them, felt that inspiring hope is an engaging process that counselors should master. If a counselor is burned out or cranky, he or she is not equipped to help anyone. That affects survivors. Understandably, negativity can be easily absorbed during trying times. In the study, when one’s personal success was challenging to identify, participants were able to capture some form of optimism through friends, family, colleagues, and other important people in their lives.

     The study describes a “personal impact” in the lives of survivors, as making a difference by forming connections and giving survivors validation. The main focus of the participants during the study was to help domestic violence survivors in any way possible. Participants determined that the goal does not always have a momentous influence in the lives of clients. However, counselors can make an impact by helping survivors realize their ability, and by encouraging them to conjure up the strength to stand tall with hope glimmering in their eyes. It is vital that domestic violence support workers empower their client’s. Participants revealed that a foundation to rebuild strength and hope could come from sharing experiences and resources.

   Hope is anchored in the quality of the relationships that domestic support workers and survivors found within each other. For the participants in this study who were feeling hopeless, wise words from co-workers, friends, and family provided them with insights they needed to provide hope for their clients. As discussed, hope has many relational angles, and it is inspired by the success of people who are close to you.

To create hope, we must surround ourselves with hopeful people. To support survivors of domestic abuse, we must be a source of inspiration and encouragement.


Source: Crain, M., & Koehn, C. (2012). The essence of hope in domestic violence support work: A hermenetic-phenemenological inquiry. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 34, 170-188.

Remembering the Big Picture

Women who have suffered from domestic and family violence use health and domestic violence services more often than women who have not been a victim (Power, Bahnisch, & McCarthy, 2011). “Nearly 25% of American women are directly affected by some form of violence perpetrated by an intimate partner, having both a physical and psychological toll on the victims” (Perez, Johnson, & Vaile Wright, 2012).


The experiences that survivors go through are difficult enough. When survivors use domestic violence services, it is imperative that their voices are heard. Over the past decades, these services have become much more prevalent; especially with the passing and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. In 2006, legislation initiated the building of more violence services and $125 million for shelters across the country (Kulkarni, Bell, & McDaniel Rhodes, 2012).

In a study conducted by Kulkarni et al. (2012) on a focus group of survivors of intimate partner violence who sought help through domestic violence services found four thematic categories relating to the betterment of said services, based on their experiences. These categories were: providing empathy, supporting empowerment, individualizing care, and maintaining ethical boundaries.

Service providers/advocates were also in focus groups in this study and provided further information that hindered the quality of their services. The factors they included were: inadequate organizational resources, staff burnout, lack of training, and poor integration with other community resources. Back to Basics, the title of this study, is truly an enlightening piece of work and at its core it is about “respectful, empowering relationships for quality intimate partner violence services” (Kulkarni, Bell, & McDaniel Rhodes, 2012).


Kulkarni, S. J., Bell, H., & McDaniel Rhodes, D. (2012). Back to basics: Essential qualities of services for survivors of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 18(1), 85-101.

Perez, S., Johnson, D. M., & Vaile Wright, C. (2012). The attenuating effect of empowerment on IPV-related PTSD symptoms in battered women living in domestic violence shelters. Violence Against Women, 18(1), 102-117.

Power, C., Bahnisch, L., & McCarthy, D. (2011). Social work in the emergency department-Implemenation of a domestic and family violence screening program. Australian Social Work, 64, 537-554.

Keep our police force informed!

     Police officers are among the first responders to victims of domestic violence. Their attitudes and procedures are important to victims that report abuse. 


     There are many concerns that victims have when it comes to involving the police, one being the mandatory arrest policy for abusers in the United States. In spite of that concern, victims are more likely to call the police when their abusers have a history of violence, harm them physically, use weapons, and are under the influence of alcohol at the time of the offense (Felson, Messner, Hoskin, & Deane, 2002).  There are many other factors that recruit police action, but the four listed are the ones that appear the most in literature (Horwitz, et al., 2011).

     According to The National Crime Victimization Survey, victims domestic violence victims are less likely to call the police out of concerns for their privacy, their fear of reprisal and their want to protect their abuser (Felson, Messner, Hoskin, & Deane, 2002).  When victims report their abuser, it is important that when law enforcement comes to their aid that they are trained to deal with such delicate situations as these. 

     Among research conducted by Wolf, Ly, Hobart and Kernic (2003), there are many disappointments for victims concerning the response they get from police.  They often feel that the severity of their situation is minimized by police officers and are made to feel ashamed when their stories are shown to others in ways that make light of the situation.  There are many other deterrents for victims such as having a fear of law enforcement responding to them in an arrogant and rude manner and with no empathy (Wolf, Ly, Hobart, & Kernic, 2003).

     How do police officers feel when they receive a domestic violence call?  What are their attitudes towards victims and perpetrators?  Is there any room for improvement? 

     A study done by a team of researchers in an urban city found police officers expressing frustration with victims because some victims do not follow through with the legal case. When these types of situations occur, officers have to go back to the residence again and again to deal with the disputes.  In this same study done by Horwitz, Mitchell, LaRussa-Trot, Santiago, Pearson, Skiff and Cerulli (2011), found that some of the police officers in the study weren’t sure if they were empathtic enough to individuals who were truly victimized and helpless because they tended to get desensitized when they felt they were going to abused woman’s home that did not follow through with prior legal cases. 

     When it came to more experienced police officers, feelings of ineffectiveness developed due to the lack of resolve in many of their cases. Many police officers also express frustration with the Criminal Justice system. 

      Law enforcement is aware that they need to do their part enforcing the laws for the safety of the public, but there does need to be changes in societal and community agendas.  In order for police officers and other law enforcement officials to be successful with their own job satisfaction, debriefing, feedback, continuation of domestic violence education and informing the police academy’s when evidence-based interventions really work so they can update their procedures (Horwitz, et al., 2011).



Felson, R., Messner, S. F., Hoskin, A. W., & Deane, G. (2002). Reasons for reporting and not reporting domestic violence to the police. Criminology, 40, 617-648. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.2002.tb00968.x

Horwitz, S. H., Mitchell, D., LaRussa-Trott, M., Santiago, L., Pearson, J., Skiff, D. M., & Cerulli, C. (2011). An inside view of police officers’ experience with domestic violoence. Journal of Family Violence, 26, 617-625.

Wolf, M., Ly, U., Hobart, M., & Kernic, M. (2003). Barriers to seeking police help for intimate partner violence. Journal of Family Violence, 18, 121-129.

“When people talk, things happen.”

People certainly talked at Speranza’s 3rd annual International Women’s Day event this past Saturday, as quoted by speaker Ritha Baraka.


Women of all cultures came together at Warmdaddy’s to celebrate the triumphs of women, and to discuss improvements women can make to better their lives. The event included speakers, networking opportunities, and empowering speeches.


Four guest speakers graced the audience with their presence as they shared personal stories, expressed ways to improve health outcomes, and highlighted on the importance of having self-worth. 


Image An unforgettable speech articulated by nationally acclaimed author of Satin Doll, Karen Quinones Miller, told the audience that it is okay to be angry but to never be bitter about a situation. “Bitterness is like cancer,” said Miller. She expressed how anger can internalize to bitterness if not embraced. This bitterness can lead to unnecessary stress, causing major health issues amongst the female population.





ImageBrenda Shelton-Dunston of the Philadelphia Black Women’s Health Project, followed up by saying stress is the root of major health issues faced by women of color in particular.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity all begin with stress. Dunston expressed to the audience that it is time to “switch the paradigm from illness to wellness.” 





ImageRitha Baraka, originally from Congo, spoke of a need to switch the education paradigm in certain regions in Africa as well as in other less education regions across the world. “Women are dying from ignorance,” exclaimed Baraka. She highlighted the importance of education and sharing stories with others to help better understand rights as women and how to live a healthier life.




ImageFinal speaker, Dr. Maryam Tabrizi, talked of how domestic violence victims learn to survive. She explained how survival tactics might include lying, becoming angry, running away etc. She claimed that the only way to stop these habits is by finding your self-worth, and by losing the victimized mentality.





The 3rd annual International Women’s Day event was yet another great success. Thank you to our speakers, guests, Warmdaddy’s and a special thanks to our founder Christina Blackburn for putting it all together!


Like us on Facebook/ follow us on Twitter for more information on our upcoming events!

Celebrate the 3rd Annual International Women’s Day


March 8, 2014 marks the official 3rd annual International Women’s Day, though a day in celebration of women dates back to the early ‘90s.

Stemming from a demand of higher wages and less work hours in New York City 1908, IWD is now officially recognized by Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia and the United States.


On this day, women of all cultures come together rallying against existing inequality. Though the new millennium brought on attitudinal changes in women’s and society’s opinions on women’s equality and emancipation, women are still not paid equally to men; women are still out-numbered in businesses and politics; women are still struggling with health, education, and violence against them.

Globally, hundreds of thousands of events will be held Mar. 8 aimed to condone inspiration, acknowledge past achievements, and discuss ways to accomplish future goals.

Let your voice be heard! Speranza will host a networking event at Warmdaddy’s where guests are to expect empowering conversation over a delicious 3-course meal! However REGISTRATION IS LIMITED. Please click the flyer below to register. We hope to see you there!


To stop violence we must come together!

      It is extremely important for people to be aware and informed about intimate partner violence or domestic violence, so that they will know how to act if ever they are faced with it and also what they should expect from their violent partners (Bogeanu, 2012).

    Women who are in abusive relationships may not want to disclose the fact that they are a victim of domestic violence and also may not want to seek assistance from community agencies for a few reasons. For some it may be because they do not find the abuse they have experienced, or are experiencing, serious enough to seek help; they may not find available community resources useful; perhaps some are not aware of the full range of available resources; they may not be able to seek help because they are prevented by their abusive partner (Fugate, Landis, Riordan, Naureckas, & Engel, 2005).

      Werner-Wilson, Zimmerman and Whalen (2000), identified several precursors to leaving an abusive relationship. These precursors include defining a relationship as abusive, reinstating a sense of self and hope for the future, knowing a safe place to go when leaving a violent or abusive partner, and having the confidence that through community support you can start a new life.

       Survivors of domestic violence indicate higher levels of trust when they seek help from health care professionals. Survivors can speak to health care professionals openly about their experience, maintain confidentiality, share in decision making, are compassionate and nonjudgmental, and research has also found that it can be helpful if the health care professional is willing to share personal information with the survivor (Battaglia, Finley, & Liebschutz, 2003).

      In a phenomenological study conducted by McLeod, Hays, and Chang (2010), found that the survivors in their study used both community and personal resources in their process of leaving an abusive partner. They found that there are major themes for personal and community resources both having positive and negative effects for survivors of domestic violence. For personal resources the major themes are: needing social support, desiring personal validation, engaging in self-care, and reaching out to others. For the community level of resources the major themes are: receiving adequate assessment, feeling validated through community response, being offered protection, and having support options.



Battaglia, T., Finley, E., & Liebschutz, J. M. (2003). Survivors of intimate partner violence speaks out: Trust in the patient-provider-relationship. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 617-623.

Bogeanu, E. (2012). The role of social services in the context of intimate violence. Revista de Asistenta Sociala (Social Work Review), 11(4), 153-174.

Fugate, M., Landis, L., Riordan, K., Naureckas, S., & Engel, B. (2005). Barriers to domestic violence help seeking: Implications for intervention. Violence Against Women, 11, 290-310.

McLeod, A., Hays, D. G., & Chang, C. Y. (2010). Female intimate partner violence survivors’ experiences with accessing resources. Journal of Counseling and Development, 88, 303-310.

Werner-Wilson, R., Zimmerman, T. S., & Whalen, D. (2000). Resilient response to battering. Contemporary Family Therapy, 22, 161-188.

Safe love safety tips

         Many choose to stay in an abusive relationship out of fear of being hurt after leaving. According to Domestic Abuse Shelter of the Florida Keys, 75% of domestic violence homicides occur as victims attempt to leave the relationship. Either option can turn into a dangerous situation, but it is always best to leave an abusive relationship. How can you go about leaving an abusive partner without injury? Plan ahead! Here are a few tips to help keep you and your children safe.

Safety during an incident:

  • Stay out of rooms that have weapons (kitchen, bathroom).
  • Know your exit points.
  • Have a packed bag at a friend or relative’s residence.
  • Tell a neighbor that will call the police if an argument escalates.
  • Create a code word or sign instructing neighbors to call 911.

Safety when leaving:

  • Open a separate checking/savings account and a post office box.
  • Leave essentials (money, set of keys, copies of important documents, extra clothes, medicines) with someone you trust.
  • Make sure you know of a safe place where you and your children can go.

Safety in the home:

  • Be sure to lock windows and change the locks on your doors.
  • Make a safety plan with children for when you are not with them.
  • Notify neighbors and landlords that you no longer live with your partner.
  • Never call the abuser from your house.
  • Request an unlisted/unpublished phone number from the telephone company.

Safety at job/in public areas:

  • Tell a friend at work about your situation. Let the office building security know, and provide them with picture of the abuser if possible.
  • Have someone screen phone calls.
  • Walk with someone to your car, the bus, or the train.
  • Use a variety of routes to come and go from home

Safety check list:

  • Identification: driver’s license, birth certificate (yours and your children’s), Social Security cards
  • Financial: Money, credit cards (in your name), checking and savings account books and information
  • Legal Documents: protective order, lease/rental agreements, house deed, car insurance and registration, health and life insurance papers, medical records, school records, work permits, Green Card, visa, passport, divorce and custody papers, marriage license
  • Medication, house/car keys, valuables




STOP the Partner Abuse Statistics

Intimate partner violence as defined by Fisher, Lang and Wheaton (2010) is abuse that occurs between two people that are in a close relationship.  An intimate partner refers to former and current spouses and also to dating partners.


Accordingly Intimate Partner Violence range from a single isolated episode of violence to ongoing battering.  To further define Intimate Partner Violence it must be stated that there are four types of behaviors as expressed by Saltzman, Fanslow, McMahon ad Shelly (2002) and they are as follows:

1. Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, burning, or other physical force

2. Sexual violence is forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent

3. Threats of physical or sexual violence include the use of words, gestures, weapons, or other means to communicate the intent to harm

4. Emotional abuse is threatening a partner or his or her possessions or loved ones, or harming a partner’s sense of self-worth.  Examples are stalking, name-calling, intimidation, or not letting a partner see friends and family

There is a necessity to familiarize ourselves and educate others to what domestic violence and intimate partner violence is.  According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2003) nearly 5.3 million Intimate Partner violations occur each year in the United States to women 18 years and older.  Among that number close to 1,300 women lose their lives as a result to abuse and violence.

The statistics are overwhelming and absolutely terrifying. By knowing the facts and information available, domestic violence/intimate partner violence can be prevented.  Perhaps you have a loved one, or perhaps you yourself are being abused and do not recognize the signs.  You are not alone.  More and more individuals are living these nightmares with no way of getting out.  If we can define what is happening and educate others, we can change these statistics and put an end to domestic violence.


Fisher, Deborah, & Lang, K.S, & Wheaton, Jocelyn. (2010). Training professionals in the primary prevention of sexual and intimate partner violence: A planning guide. Centers of disease control and prevention. 11.

Saltzman, L.E., & Fanslow, J.L., & McMahon, P.M., & Shelley, G.A. (2002). Intimate partner violence surveillance: Uniform definitions and recommended data elements, version 1.0. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and control.

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2003). Costs of intimate partner violence against women in the United Sates. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.