By: Celina Doka, Human Options Board President
Family get togethers, festive feasts, and thoughtful gifts — the holiday season is a time of joyful celebrations and a time to embrace the spirit of giving!
As we reflect on the stories survivors have shared and our impact this year we are humbled by what you made possible.
Let’s take a brief moment to celebrate our shared successes in helping survivors reclaim a life free from fear.
Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Violence
This past year we witnessed an increased need for mental health services offered through our Family Resource Centers. Mental health is critical to the overall health and well-being of the clients who seek our support. To help survivors in our communities achieve better outcomes, we focused on enhancing our mental health services in 2022, by centering the whole person and on whole family care.
Family Resource Centers (FRCs) provide a safe haven where survivors are connected with consistent, compassionate support from a dedicated advocate throughout their journey. Located at the heart of each community, the FRCs are a space for survivors to feel safe and find healing on their journey.
We are hopeful about the early success of this program to help break the intergenerational cycle of violence for survivors throughout the communities we serve. Our team has worked hard to strengthen our mental health services in 2022 and is resolute in continuing to deepen our impact across the lifespan.
Housing Assistance for Survivors
Stable housing is one of the most urgent needs for survivors of relationship violence. Escaping abusive relationships is nearly impossible for far too many victims due to overlapping barriers (income, childcare, etc.) and a lack of viable housing options.
In 2022, we launched the Acceleration Fund to help provide survivors unrestricted financial support to be used towards removing barriers to housing. The generous support of our donors has empowered Human Options with the flexible financial resources required to connect survivors with safe, stable housing options. Take a look at our housing program’s impact:
- Nearly 80% of clients who benefited from the Acceleration Fund increased their self sufficiency
- This year, we were selected to lead an Emergency Housing Vouchers initiative partnership in Orange County to provide supportive services and housing navigation for survivors receiving housing vouchers. This is the first time that the county has earmarked vouchers specifically for domestic violence survivors. To date we have assisted 44 clients with Emergency Housing Vouchers.
Strengthening Community Advocates
This past year, we recognized and responded to the need to bolster the support victims receive from trained professionals in our community. Through expanded training initiatives, we’ve increased the number of experienced advocates in our communities that can identify the signs of relationship violence and help save lives.
Unfortunately, not every individual experiencing relationship violence in Orange County is able to be connected with support resources through Human Options. Some seek support through friends, family, or professionals in our communities. To fill these gaps in support and better serve the entire community, we’ve strengthened our training protocols and developed the tools to help connect more people with the support they need, when they need it.
In 2022, we expanded our work with beauty professionals across two specialized campuses, with extensive trainings occurring once a quarter. These training sessions educated beauty professionals in Orange County about the range of resources that are available to support survivors of relationship violence.
Additionally, Human Options offered Human Resources professional training. This comprehensive program helped HR professionals better recognize signs of relationship violence so they can connect victims with the appropriate support resources.
The success of these professional training initiatives has laid the foundation for growth in 2023, further expanding access to vital support resources throughout Orange County.
Cultivating Meaningful Community Partnerships
We leverage key partnerships with community groups and agencies to help broaden our range of impact. This past year, we’ve proudly partnered with key organizations in the Orange County Domestic Violence Death Review Team (DVDRT) to help increase awareness of the prevalence of gun violence in abusive relationships through publishing a decade long study highlighting fatality trends and recommendations for prevention and intervention.
According to the analysis, guns were found to be the leading cause of death in domestic violence cases and were used in 72% of fatalities. We spearheaded a press conference to educate the community about this report and the role that gun violence plays, which will lead to more proactive strategies that law enforcement, the justice system and others can use to address violence before it becomes fatal. The press conference was covered by all major local media outlets with Human Options at the center of this important initiative. Learn more about our DVDRT work and why gun control legislation matters here.
In another strategic partnership, Human Options also collaborated with the City of Costa Mesa and the Costa Mesa Police Department during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to host a #ShinetheLight event, our first ever walking vigil for the community to learn more about domestic violence. This event not only raised awareness in the community but showed solidarity with those who’ve experienced it. You can learn more about the #ShinetheLight walking vigil here.
Looking Ahead to Our Continued Success in 2023
As the end of the year wraps, we are feeling more grateful than ever to be able to celebrate the accomplishments you made possible in 2022.
As we prepare to implement initiatives that will allow us to provide additional support to survivors and educate Orange County to recognize relationship violence as an issue that threatens everyone, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting survivors on their journey to healing and living a life free from fear. We are humbled and inspired by the survivors we serve.
“I was in such shock when I arrived, a shell of a person; but I left a whole human being. You gave me a sense of safety and security and cheered me on when I needed it the most. I now have an opportunity to make a new life – I am ready and capable to face the future.” – Mother, Survivor