From Shelter to Fresh Start in Seven Weeks

TUNE IN! Telecia Allen will be presented with a Positively Jax Award on News4Jax, WJXT Channel 4, Friday, November 19
at 8:45 a.m.

When a survivor walks through the door of shelter, she is bruised and battered, often disheartened, and nearly always afraid, but in seven weeks’ time, with the help of her Hubbard House advocate, everything will be different, transformed. How does this partnership between survivor and advocate work? And, how is it that in an average 52-day shelter stay* the survivor can get what she needs to escape the darkness of domestic violence?

Per longtime Victim Advocate Telecia Allen, it all begins with trust.

“When a survivor walks into my office for the first time, still bruised and healing, I know she’s wondering what I think about her, if I accept her. Once we spend a little time together, she knows that I am not judging her. I care for her. And, I will do everything I can to help her reach her goals. Then, things change,” said Telecia. “The relationship becomes real, and she knows she can count on me.”

Every survivor at Hubbard House is assigned a victim advocate, and victim advocates meet regularly with their assigned survivors. During these meetings, advocates inquire about each survivor’s health and healing, and ensure survivors and children are comfortable in the shelter. They also help the survivor-adults to set goals that move them toward their new beginnings. Advocates also provide encouragement, ideas, resources and referrals to facilitate survivor success.

The type of help advocates offer survivors depends on each survivor’s unique goals. For example, Mary, a survivor with permanent mobility issues – a result of abuse-related injuries – and a nine-year-old daughter, needed to apply for disability and secure affordable, handicap-accessible housing. Telecia, her advocate, helped her apply and connected her to the Jacksonville Housing Authority. Today, Mary receives a disability income and lives in an affordable, ground-floor apartment on the Southside, safe with her child.

At about the halfway point, most survivors are making substantial progress toward their goals; for example, if they’re looking for a job or housing, they’ve worked with Hubbard House’s economic justice advocate to create a resume or review housing programs. However, sometimes survivors struggle to overcome barriers. Advocates, experienced problem solvers, are always there, at the ready, to provide help.

“One of my survivors had been evicted from her home as a direct result of the financial abuse she suffered at the hands of her partner,” explained Telecia. “We were able to work together, obtain a hearing and get that eviction removed from her record, so she was able to rent another place.”

Lack of employment history, childcare and transportation are some of the other barriers that survivors often face and victim advocates frequently address, providing the means by which a survivor becomes empowered again.

Some barriers to independence and safety are internal – mental and emotional – and are often a consequence of relationship-related trauma. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, clinical depression and acute anxiety are among the challenges a survivor may face. Again, the advocate is there to help.

“Trauma-informed counseling and group support are offered to every survivor upon arrival, but the critical need for these services may not be detected immediately,” explained Telecia. “Fortunately, often by the time this type of need appears, the survivor and I have enough of a relationship — trust — and she feels comfortable confiding in me, and I can help her get the help she wants and needs.”

In each phase and as the situation changes, the victim advocate is there to support the survivor. She helps the survivor set goals. She gives referrals to other individuals and organizations with helpful expertise and programs. She helps the survivor find ways around barriers. Ultimately, the reward for both the advocate and the survivor is great.

 “As part of the domestic violence experience most survivors have been verbally abused. They’ve been told they can’t make it on their own. But there is a moment, usually when they secure housing, that they realize those words were not true,” explained Telecia. “They’ll say, look what I did! Look what I did on my own! From then on, it’s like watching a butterfly. They take flight. They fly.”

*While the average shelter stay is 7 weeks, the length of stay varies.

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Inspired to consider advocacy as a career option? We’re hiring! Positions posted here: www.HubbardHouse.org/careers

In a rough relationship and need to talk to an advocate to receive support and discover options?

24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline, (904) 354-3114; 24/7 Domestic Violence Textline, (904) 210-3698

To meet with an advocate in person, call (904) 400-6300 to schedule an appointment at our Outreach Center, or drop-in 10-4 p.m., M-Friday, excluding holidays: Hubbard House Outreach Center, 6629 Beach Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32216.

Communication, shelter and services are provided confidentially and at no cost to the survivor. You do not need to stay at the shelter to qualify for many helpful services.

Back-to-school season isn’t only for children!

Many adults decide to seek or continue their education later in life. They may want to get a better job or know more about something they’re passionate about. They may just enjoy learning new things!

For survivors of domestic violence, though, the path toward education can be a challenge.

Education and Abuse

An abuser may sabotage their partner’s efforts to gain an education. They see education as a path to independence for the survivor, and they are threatened by that.

To keep control, the abuser may refuse to pay for classes, deny access to transportation to get to school, destroy homework and class materials, monitor use of technology, and much more. If the couple has children, an abuser may withhold support for childcare, so the survivor must juggle caring for the children while trying to attend school and focus on schoolwork.

In addition to these direct tactics, an abuser may also shame a survivor for their lack of education, call them names that insult their intelligence, tell them people won’t believe anything they say because they are not educated, or embarrass them over their efforts to attend school later in life.

Abusive tactics that affect education can have a very lasting impact. Limiting education can lead to challenges in gaining and maintaining a job or achieving a promotion, which can further trap the survivor in the abusive relationship.

Hubbard House support

Not only does Hubbard House provide life-saving, life-changing services for survivors and children, but we work with survivors to overcome the barriers they face because of the abuse they’ve endured. That includes barriers to their education and employment.

Hubbard House advocates support survivors on their path to employment directly through help with resume writing, job interview skills, career counseling, and more. If that journey to economic independence involves education, Hubbard House supports that in ways tailored to the survivor, like helping secure supplies and materials needed for education and providing childcare in shelter. Advocates will also help survivors with budgeting and other steps to support affording an education.

Survivors, you are strong and smart. Hubbard House supports you and your efforts to learn and grow.

Survivors can learn more about these resources by meeting in-person with an advocate at the Hubbard House Outreach Center (6629 Beach Blvd), calling our 24/7 Hotline at (904)354-3114, or reaching out through our 24/7 Textline at (904)210-3698. All resources are free and confidential.

2017 Domestic Violence Awareness Address

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At last week’s Barbara Ann Campbell Memorial Breakfast, Hubbard House CEO Dr. Gail A. Patin delivered a powerful speech that asked and answered the questions on the minds of many in the community; namely, why should I, as an individual or organization in Jacksonville, support Hubbard House? What difference does Hubbard House make locally? And, how can I personally help to eradicate domestic violence? Her remarks, featured below, resonated and moved many to action.

Domestic Violence Address

23rd Annual Barbara Ann Campbell Memorial Breakfast, October 12, 2017

Hubbard House CEO Dr. Gail A. Patin

People often ask why I have chosen to make my life’s work the eradication of domestic violence. The reason is simple: Survivors. I am driven to see these courageous women, children and men live safe and satisfying lives that they choose for themselves. As I look out at each of you, I see this truth: You are with me. We are in this together.

It’s also true that together, as a community, we can eradicate domestic violence, especially domestic violence homicides.

To take our next steps in this work together, let’s begin by wrapping our hearts and minds around two truths that will inform our work going forward:

Truth one is this, and it’s difficult . . .  Last year, we saw the number of domestic violence homicides climb to a 20-year high in Duval County.

Twelve (12) victims were shot, stabbed, strangled, drowned, set on fire, beaten to death and/or thrown out like trash by their intimate partners.

The word unacceptable doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Furthermore, it’s especially tragic because we didn’t have the opportunity to intervene in these situations. Not one of these victims were seeking services from Hubbard House when they were murdered.

So, truth one is this… In 2016, a record number of human beings in our community lost their lives to domestic violence, and none of them were receiving services from Hubbard House.

Here is truth two, and this is our best truth, the good news:

It doesn’t have to be this way!  Hubbard House is here to help,

and we are saving lives together.

Last year, Hubbard House provided life-saving, life-changing services to 5,019 women, children and men here in our local community.

Right here in Jacksonville,

Survivors were safely sheltered and sustained.

They were supported, counseled, informed and educated.

They were helped to obtain injunctions for protection, and they were assisted in finding jobs and homes.

And you know what else? They are all alive today.

Every woman. Every child. Every man. Every person who sought Hubbard House services in 2016 – All of them – are alive right now.

Taken together, what do these two truths mean? They mean that there are people dying in our community because of domestic violence, and they don’t have to because we have a solution that works! We simply must reach them, survivors living in these situations, through greater awareness of domestic violence and of our services, so more survivors will turn to us. Awareness, after all, is why we are here today.

As we move forward in this work we are doing together, here are two ways that you can maintain or deepen your commitment to the cause, the eradication of domestic violence.

One. Share about domestic violence and Hubbard House with those in your circle of influence – leave our “What is abuse?” cards in your break room, schedule a Hubbard House speaker to talk with your group about domestic violence, or share one of our informative Twitter or Facebook posts with your friends or followers.

You know, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, and one in three women experiences physical violence, sexual violence or stalking from an intimate partner in their lifetimes, so you will reach someone in need. Someone that we, Hubbard House, can’t reach on our own.

Two. Please continue to support the work of Hubbard House with your time and your treasure. In so doing, you are providing a place for survivors and their children to turn for help, when they need help most. And, the truth is, miracles happen in our halls! You are also making our community a better place to live, because when life gets better for some of us, it gets better for all of us.     

Because of you, lives are saved and hearts are healed. Thank you so much for your support.

Increasing Awareness About Elder Abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), directed by the U.S. Administration on Aging, reports that accurate national statistics about how many older Americans are being neglected, exploited and abused are extremely difficult to gather. Varying state definitions of elder abuse, the lack of a uniform reporting system and the fact that it is often a hidden problem hinder national efforts to provide precise numbers.

Hubbard House wants to address this difficult topic, because understanding and recognizing signs of improper elder care could be the difference between helping someone live with peace and security versus living in turmoil and danger – the difference between life and death.

It is estimated that for every one case of reported elder abuse, exploitation, neglect or self-neglect, anywhere from five to fourteen more incidents go unreported. A little over two thirds of elder abuse cases involve a female victim, and nearly 90 percent of incidents take place in a domestic setting by someone the victim knows.

Recent news about elder abuse in Florida made headlines last month when Gov. Rick Scott declared June 15 to be Elder Abuse Awareness Day for the state. Florida’s nearly 4.5 million seniors were the focus of the day which coincided with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an international attempt to raise awareness about building safer communities for the elderly.

According to Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs, Florida had 31,241 reports of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect in the last 12 months. This translates to an average of 86 incidents per day, every day of the week.

According the NCEA website, these signs are guidelines for detecting problems with elder care, but the indicators of maltreatment may be more extensive:

  • Physical abuse is defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Physical abuse may include but is not limited to such acts of violence as striking (with or without an object), hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning. In addition, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind also are examples of physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse is defined as non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person. Sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent is also considered sexual abuse. It includes, but is not limited to, unwanted touching, all types of sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, and sexually explicit photographing.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse is defined as the infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. Emotional/psychological abuse includes but is not limited to verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment. In addition, treating an older person like an infant; isolating an elderly person from his/her family, friends, or regular activities; giving an older person the “silent treatment;” and enforced social isolation are examples of emotional/psychological abuse.
  • Financial or material exploitation is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets. Examples include, but are not limited to, cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission; forging an older person’s signature; misusing or stealing an older person’s money or possessions; coercing or deceiving an older person into signing any document (e.g., contracts or will); and the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship, or power of attorney.
  • Self-neglect is characterized as the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his/her own health or safety. Self-neglect generally manifests itself in an older person as a refusal or failure to provide himself/herself with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medication (when indicated), and safety precautions. The definition of self-neglect excludes a situation in which a mentally competent older person, who understands the consequences of his/her decisions, makes a conscious and voluntary decision to engage in acts that threaten his/her health or safety as a matter of personal choice.
  • Neglect is defined as the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties to an elder. Neglect may also include failure of a person who has fiduciary responsibilities to provide care for an elder (e.g., pay for necessary home care services) or the failure on the part of an in-home service provider to provide necessary care. Neglect typically means the refusal or failure to provide an elderly person with such life necessities as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety, and other essentials included in an implied or agreed-upon responsibility to an elder.

Florida law gives all of us a duty to report abuse of vulnerable adults, which includes elders.  If you suspect elder abuse, please contact the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).  You can also contact the Department of Elder Affairs at 850-414-2000 to speak with your local elder abuse prevention coordinator.

If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.

ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE: Founded in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic child care, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.

By Erin Ostrowsky