“When we are in shame, we don’t see the big picture; we don’t accurately think about our strengths and limitations. We just feel alone, exposed and deeply flawed.”
--- Dr. Brene Brown, on the ripple effect of shame on domestic violence survivors.
Did you know that in 98% of cases where there is domestic violence, financial abuse is also taking place? Abusers often control their victims' access to money - making it even harder for survivors to leave and embark on a new life.
Otherwise known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), domestic violence affects those of all ages, nationalities, economic classes and racial backgrounds. It does not discriminate against one type of person, and it impacts society as a whole - drastically changing the quality of life not only for the victim, but also their family, dependents, friends and community members. This is why domestic violence support groups are so important for survivors - to empower them, and create communities of healing and strength for everyone involved.
Survivors fleeing situations of IPV may feel uncertain, alone, isolated and fearful - for themselves and for their children. It's important that these courageous people receive support. That's why we've curated this list of domestic violence support groups in California. This list is not an endorsement of these groups; instead, it may be a resource for those who are looking for networks of support and communities of their peers.
1. A Safe Place: Oakland CA
This group traces its origin to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Oakland in 1976, and provides individuals with the necessary tools, support and resources they need to gain independence, self-sufficiency, change and empowerment. A Safe Place offers crisis counseling and their own 30-bed facility in order to offer battered women and their children a safe place to recover and stabilize.
2. 1736 Family Crisis Center: Los Angeles, CA
1736 Family Crisis Center provides up to 90 days of emergency shelter and up to two years of transitional shelter for anyone who needs help. The shelter supports adults and their dependents, pregnant women, adults with teenage children, large families and veterans. This group is totally comprehensive - so all food, toiletries, hygiene supplies, household supplies, and services are free of charge. Services like therapy, legal counseling and social work are all provided by highly trained professionals.
3. The Coalition for Family Harmony: Oxnard, CA
The Coalition aims to prevent the cycle of violence by educating the community about violence against women, children and men. Their 30-day program helps victims escape violent relationships safely while providing advocacy in emotional, medical, legal, economic and housing issues, all completely free and in-house.
4. DOVES: Big Bear Valley, CA
Governed by a 100% volunteer Board of Directors who operate a 17-bed shelter for women and children, this group is the community’s resource for ending domestic violence via intervention, prevention and education. DOVES empowers those who are suffering and is a safe haven for survivors - providing them with emotional, therapeutic and problem-solving support. DOVES offers participants in the program parenting classes, social service advocacy, hospital room visits, restraining order assistance as well court accompaniment and supervised visitation for non-custodial parents.
5. LIFT3 Support Group: Vallejo, CA
LIFT3 provides one-on-one counseling to those who call their 24-hour crisis hotline, in addition to providing female survivors with temporary emergency housing, transportation, food and clothing. For those who need it, LIFT3 also offers crisis intervention and case management assistance, medical advocacy, mental health referrals, legal referrals and transitional housing.
As they recover, survivors must not only rebuild their senses of self, identity and esteem - but also their lives. This reconstruction takes patience and a village of support. While relying on a "tribe" of community members, survivors can explore new goals, lifestyles and coping mechanisms in an atmosphere of support, compassion and respect.
If you or a loved one need further resources and support, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline here.
*Reader Note: This list is a timely resource for survivors during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It should not be viewed as an endorsement of these groups, but rather as a source of information. Serving California is not affiliated with any of these groups.