Our mission at DeafHope is to end domestic and sexual violence in Deaf communities through empowerment, education and services.
Our mission at DeafHope is to end domestic and sexual violence in Deaf communities through empowerment, education and services. DeafHope was founded by women from the Deaf community in February, 2003. Kate Kovacs, Julie Rems-Smario, Jane Whitney, Cheryl Bella, Amber Hodson, Trina Licht, Wenda Whalen and Julie Bella saw the need for services to Deaf survivors. Meeting at Starbucks, at each others homes, wherever possible, the vision for DeafHope was born. DeafHope has grown rapidly, due to the great need for culturally specific services. We believe that Deaf survivors and their children deserve access to services that will support them through violent situations. DeafHope draws on the strength and experience of survivors and Deaf women as leaders, advocates and volunteers. Since 2006, DeafHope has partnered with the Alameda County Family Justice Center in Oakland, supporting survivors through a “one stop” model with 30 onsite agencies providing coordinated services. We have also partnered with the Contra Costa County Family Justice Center in Richmond. These strong partnerships have proven invaluable in increasing access to services for Deaf survivors. As a grassroots organization, our goal is to provide accessible support and empowerment to Deaf survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Our mission is achieved on three levels – by providing services to Deaf survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their children; by educating our community and service providers about domestic and sexual violence; and by providing training and technical assistance to establish more accessible services for Deaf survivors. At DeafHope we rely on the empowerment model. We believe that Deaf survivors and children are not responsible for the violence they experience, and they have a right to live in a healthy environment. We believe that Deaf survivors have the ability and right to make their own choices toward living independently and safely. As advocates, we provide support and information, working with their strengths, and we believe only survivors can make the best choices for themselves and their children. DeafHope advocates provide support for Deaf survivors and their children and facilitate self-determination through comprehensive services. Deaf survivors are the experts we consult first in providing services. Our role as advocates is to discuss options, dispel myths, and offer non-judgmental support. Services fully incorporate a deep understanding of the dynamics of violence, the vital importance of confidentiality, and individual approaches to safety planning. While respecting the right of the survivor to determine their services, DeafHope offers information, referral, peer counseling, case management and systems advocacy for Deaf survivors. At DeafHope we recognize that in the majority of cases, women are assaulted. This happens because we live in a patriarchal society where violence against women is allowed and institutionalized. Men are also assaulted. At DeafHope we are committed to providing services to anyone who has experienced domestic violence and/or sexual assault. As a community, we can end violence against women by educating ourselves, teaching our children nonviolence and respect, supporting survivors, and demanding accountability for those using violence. We would like to thank everyone in the community who has supported the services at DeafHope. We express our deep gratitude to our volunteers and interns, without whom we would not be successful today.
DeafHope provides comprehensive advocacy to Deaf survivors and their children. The guiding principle of DeafHope advocacy services is the self-determination of survivors – we respect the right of the survivor to make their own decisions. Deaf survivors are the experts in what best fits their needs. Our role is to discuss options and dispel myths, while offering non-judgmental support. Our services fully incorporate a deep understanding the dynamics of violence, the vital importance of confidentiality, and individual approaches to safety planning. DeafHope works to develop innovative approaches to facilitate change within the Deaf community, to break down the cultural and social systems that perpetuate violence against women, and to empower individuals to work toward a life free of violence. All DeafHope services are provided free of charge.
– Peer counseling
– Support groups
– Systems advocacy to access community resources
– Referral and Case Management with other service providers
– Outreach and education for violence prevention
Training and Consultation
– For Deaf service providers on domestic and sexual violence through a survivor-centered, trauma-informed framework
– For Hearing Service providers on communication access and best practices for serving Deaf survivors
– For Interpreters on Trauma Informed Interpreting and related topics
As Empowerment Directors, our priority is to carry out the vision developed by the Board of Directors. In summary, this vision is that to end domestic and sexual violence, we have to be grounded in global anti-oppression work, and that we are removing the stigma of violence by building bridges to the community. Ultimately we want to make the world survivor centered, to support the community in taking accountability to end violence rather than relying on DeafHope as an island of support for survivors. We create a community of support for survivors by going out, educating, supporting and being a resource for agencies and individuals. We believe that focus on three priority areas will further this vision: the collective leadership model, building a comprehensive website resource center and developing strong community partnerships. Our core team currently consists of three Empowerment Directors who are fully committed to serving Deaf survivors at the highest level possible. The size of our team grants us the flexibility to adapt quickly to cutting-edge trends in the domestic and sexual violence movement. Through our model of collective leadership, survivor-centered advocacy, and community accountability, we represent the forefront of the movement to end violence in the Bay Area Deaf Community and beyond. Collective leadership and community accountability is not just part of our job, it is embedded in our lives. We must be willing to be called out or called in for our mistakes and be proactive in addressing them. It takes authentic work to engage in difficult conversations on both personal and public levels to further the vision. For more information on Collective Leadership, check out these resources:
Board of Directors
The DeafHope Board of Directors oversees the vision and financial health of the organization. Each director has committed to ending violence in our community, supporting DeafHope by donating time and money. With our collective leadership structure, Empowerment Directors participate on the Board of Directors. Because of the unique needs of a domestic and sexual violence agency, our Board of Directors relies on an organic approach to meeting facilitation and overall functioning. We do not use Parliamentary Procedure or Robert’s Rules of Order, but rather a consensus model of decision-making. We open each meeting by reciting together our mission, grounding us in the important vision of DeafHope. We also take time for each person in attendance to check in, reinforcing the community-based nature of our work. This organic structure does not fit everyone. We encourage anyone who is interested in joining our Board of Directors to start attending our monthly meetings and join a committee to run a fundraising event. In this way, you can get to know how DeafHope runs and we can get to know you better. Then we ask that you participate in one of our domestic violence or sexual violence advocate trainings. This is required of all members of the Board.
The Board meets quarterly. General meetings are open to the public. The location of our meeting changes regularly, please email us if would like to attend. If you are interested in joining the Board of Directors, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a community based organization, we believe in transparency. Our financial documents are available for review. Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in learning more.