This Foundation is Creating an App to Help Domestic Violence Survivors
When women in Texas leave violent homes for domestic violence shelters, more than one in three are turned away due to a lack of resources, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence. After being turned away, those women must call the shelters daily to check if a spot has opened up. And only three percent of those same women will ever actually move far enough up the waitlist to enter the shelter.
Many become homeless and others return to their abusers. Others still don’t leave at all, unsure of where they’ll go next.
“It's one of the top reasons why [women] are not leaving,” says Courtney Santana, founder and CEO of the Survive 2 Thrive Foundation which aims to address the lack of resources for survivors. She says an uncertain housing situation is “a deterrent to actually ending violence in your life because you don't know where you're going to land and once you land, how are you financially going to take care of it, especially when there's children involved?”
The Survive 2 Thrive Foundation helps with both the landing and the follow through — what comes after leaving a violent domestic situation.
The local organization provides stipends to domestic violence survivors who have been turned away from shelters in Travis, Bell, Williamson and Milam counties. The $75 amount is enough to house a family of four for one night at any of the foundation’s partner hotels, each of which are thoroughly vetted to ensure the safety of survivors.
But that’s just step one: getting women and children who have experienced domestic violence out of harmful environments and placing them in safe ones.
“There's so many steps after [getting out of the home] that people need support with and it's the hardest part of it,” says Santana. “Any of those [steps] can cause someone to return to a violent home.”
The foundation addresses those next steps, focusing on rebuilding a life for domestic violence survivors — not just getting them out of immediate danger. Working with survivors, Santana and the foundation created a “survivor board” or a list of obstacles that might drive a woman back into an abusive home including lack of employment, transportation or permanent housing. Each survivor who contacts the foundation is assigned an advocate who helps them work through the obstacles, or steps.
The hope is that addressing those steps will ease the burden that shelters are facing. Because according to Santana, part of the crowding at domestic violence shelters stems from the spaces’ attempts to provide auxiliary resources to survivors rather than just housing. She compares the situation to an emergency room attempting to treat routine OBGYN appointments. The foundation’s work is meant to take care of those routine appointments so shelters can focus on triage and move women more quickly through their doors, hopefully mitigating the jammed line in the process.
This month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the foundation began beta-testing an app that will streamline that process further by allowing women to track their “survivor board” progress, to more easily contact their advocate, and to access resources, including legal information, through a mobile phone.
The foundation hopes to get feedback from survivors and shelters using the beta version of the Sanctuary app through the end of the year before launching the full-fledged version next spring. Eventually, Santana hopes to spread the app, and the foundation’s work, nationally.
In the meantime, you can aid the Survive 2 Thrive Foundation in a few ways:
As mentioned above, $75 helps house a family of four for one night. You can donate online at the foundation’s site here.
Follow the foundation
Follow the foundation on all social channels to keep up-to-date on the work they’re doing locally.
Attend or support an event
The foundation hosts several events throughout the year to raise money and awareness for its mission.
Next month, Survive 2 Thrive will launch its Purple Bowtie Movement focused on raising awareness for men affected by domestic violence, not just as victims, but as the loved ones of women survivors.
And in the spring of next year, the foundation will host both a golf tournament and a concert featuring local female artists. The Empower Her concert will be held in conjunction with the release of a CD featuring the show's performers.