About This Cause
Our philosophy, approach, services, and efforts are all about improving the lives of Deaf and DeafBlind survivors of domestic violence. This philosophy is one of informed choice and self-determination on the part of the survivor. When an advocate works with an individual, options and resources are provided. Ultimately what is decided is up to the survivor.
We serve all ages and all sexes.
Our objective is to support each victim as they heal and become a survivor by offering customized comprehensive services to individuals and families. Services available include our supportive housing which provides victims and their children a safe, secure environment; assistance to survivors as they access various systems (e.g. legal, medical, education); counseling/therapy related to domestic violence; development of Positive Parenting skills (e.g. giving praise, affirmative reinforcement for positive behavior); and structured educational and recreational activities for children living in our supportive housing. We also provide community education and advocacy on systems and policy issues.
Services are provided to our clients whether the police are involved or not and whether or not a victim leaves their abuser. All services are provided in American Sign Language (ASL).
The organization was founded in 1986 because the Deaf community, due to language and cultural barriers, did not have access to hearing domestic violence programs. We are the only agency in the United States that provides 100% fully accessible supportive housing with on-site support services for Deaf and DeafBlind victims of domestic violence. We are a Deaf-centered and client-centered agency. There are no linguistic or cultural barriers for individuals using our services. All services are provided in American Sign Language (ASL).
In 2006, we opened the nations first Deaf, DeafBlind accessible supportive housing, with 19 apartment units. In 2012, in conjunction with a local high school, we released an anti-bullying public service announcement created in ASL. In the fall of 2012 we received funding from the Office of Violence against Women allowing ADWAS to develop and implement a prevention campaign directed toward engaging Deaf men as allies.
In 2013, to move our Engaging Deaf Men’s Project forward, we hired our first Engagement Coordinator. The Engagement Coordinator organizes activities to involve men from the Deaf community in our work to address violence against women. In these activities men and women come together to evaluate the true meaning of domestic violence. Through these activities our desire is to inform, change attitudes towards and perspectives about violence towards women. We want to have these men become allies in the work to make the world safe for everyone.
In February 2014, we hosted a Healthy Communities Family Fun Day, providing information about healthy relationships. In June 2014, the Seattle Human Services Coalition will award us the Mayor’s Award & Proclamation in recognition of our work in helping shape public policy to meet basic human needs of Deaf and DeafBlind victims of domestic violence in Seattle and King County.
Program and Services
Supportive Housing Program
Too often “regular” housing is not as safe as it needs to be for Deaf and DeafBlind victims. In addition to common steps to keep our survivors safe such as privacy and a secure location, to meet their needs we provide the following:
• Every staff member is fluent in American Sign Language,
• Every room in the building has a visible flashing light for door and fire alarm,
• Every resident has a videophone for telecommunication access,
• DeafBlind residents have special accommodations according to their needs,
• Every resident has other additional assistive devices, if needed.
Within two days of moving into a unit, the survivor meets with the housing advocate who obtains information about her situation, history of abuse, number of children, level of knowledge of domestic violence/sexual assault, her immediate safety needs, and her resources. Housing policies, rules, and procedures are explained in her language.
The survivor, with support from an advocate, establishes goals to be accomplished while living at ADWAS, completes a safety plan, and applies for public financial assistance.
One of our advocates provides the survivor with available resources and options. Decisions are up to the individual, as our philosophy is one of informed choice and self-determination on the part of the survivor.
Additional services available to survivors include:
Advocacy program – Advocates help with legal systems (e.g. advocating for clients to have access to interpreters when attending court), community resources (e.g. connecting them to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for job training opportunities), and government resources (e.g. Child Protective Services, obtaining protection/restraining orders, hospitals, enrolling their children in school). ADWAS provides training in technology used for communication; finding and keeping permanent housing; and managing their personal lives such as keeping records, tracking appointments, and staying in contact with various providers.
Childcare is available for survivors when they are at appointments with ADWAS staff members or attending group therapy sessions.
Counseling program – ADWAS offers short-term crisis counseling, on-going individual/family therapy related to domestic violence, group counseling related to childhood sexual assault and domestic violence, psychosocial assessments, and evaluation of sexual abuse of children.
Positive Parenting program – Parents learn positive parenting skills such as giving praise, using clear instructions so the child knows what the parent expects, and affirmative reinforcement for positive behavior. A parenting support group and parenting classes are also offered.
Children’s program –The program includes structured educational and recreational activities; therapy; support groups; and one-to-one advocacy for primary and secondary victims of sexual, domestic and dating violence, who reside in our supportive housing.
Our program provides support services designed to enable Deaf and DeafBlind survivors to locate and secure permanent housing, heal from trauma, become better parents to break cycles of abuse, and integrate in the Deaf community. This program supports our mission of empowering Deaf and DeafBlind survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and harassment to transform their lives, while striving to change the beliefs and behaviors that foster and perpetuate violence.