Friday, December 10, 2010

The Sojourner Center

Sojourner Center             
            The Sojourner Center is the largest domestic violence shelter in the nation. Connie Phillips is a director of the shelter and in an interview posted on the sojourner website, they have so many people coming to seek help, they have to turn people away. They have been helping victims of domestic violence since they opened in 1977. There are a few different ways to contact the shelter firstly their website, they have phone lines and there is an email for those interested in the Vanguard Program. The Vanguard program is their volunteer program. Once a vanguard there are multiple different networks that you can join to become active. They have a meet the needs network which helps collect items needed for the shelter. They have a development outreach network, which helps take care of the paperwork. 

            Domestic violence is a normalized, often gendered form of control. It strikes fear into those that have to deal with it and seeks to empower the abuser while devaluing the abused. The Sojourner Center (though we don’t have a lot of information on them yet) seeks to empower women, taking them out of their current abusive situation, and offering them a place and resources to stop the abuse and get on with a better, healthier life. We feel as though with their experiences, the things they have gone through and seen, the ASU community needs to get involved with a  center like this through volunteering. Not only for the experience of working with people who have been essentially disenfranchised by abused, but also to hear and learn from their stories. Stories that need to be told, but are often silenced in forums that aren’t a Lifetime movie. While there is a domestic violence month, the media doesn’t focus attention on it and memorial or public events are scattered far between. This is a problem, and the main reason why we feel as though through the Sojourner center, a change could be made with the right volunteering and publicity where this issue can be made into a broader forum rather than just on Women Studies conferences and Lifetime Movies, where yes, it’s good that they are getting at least this publicity… But it isn’t enough. We need programs and places like the Sojourner center, places that allow for tours and other such opportunities to get the public involved. ”Social services designed to assist victims of domestic violence provide a wide range of services at the community level. The first emergency shelters were founded in the 1970s in response to a growing grassroots movement focused on the rights and needs of battered women and their children, primarily their immediate safety (Schechter, 1982). Over the past 40 years, the movement has grown and evolved to a professionalized, institutionalized system supported in part by public funding (Reinelt, 1995). The goal of the movement has also evolved, from a focus on coaching women to leave relationships to a goal of empowerment (Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2000). Empowerment service models aim to provide the necessary support, encouragement, and resources to enable a woman to make her own choices and decisions about herself and her life. Thus, many agencies have vastly expanded their services to include longer-term housing along with nonresidential services as well as support groups aimed at different subpopulations and financial literacy programs (Sullivan and Gillum, 2001).”

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