Federal grants will help Providence Houses better reach underserved domestic violence victims

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton recently received $90,000 in federal funds that will enable our Providence House Domestic Violence Services to better serve Spanish-speakers in Ocean County and rural victims in Burlington County, empowering them toward independent, abuse-free lives.

The two Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants, awarded by the State Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy, started July 1, said Mary Pettrow, associate director of Providence House.

“Providence House strives to provide our free and confidential services to all community members of both Burlington and Ocean counties, and the new funding from VAWA will expand our reach to reduce both language and transportation barriers that keep individuals and families from accessing life-saving services,” said Pettrow (pictured, right).

Bridging language gap

In Ocean County, Providence House will use $45,000 to launch the La Puerta Project, which helps open the door for underserved victims whose primary language is not English. The money enables Providence House to hire a bilingual case aide to provide victims with domestic violence education and support, safety planning, information and referral, transportation and linkages to community resources, Pettrow said.

More than 6 percent of Ocean County’s nearly 600,000 residents are native Spanish-speakers, according to census data, and Spanish is the most-requested language for people seeking translation for domestic abuse services.

Reaching rural residents

In Burlington County, Providence House will use $45,000 to launch the Rural Outreach Project, a trauma-focused, research-informed program intended to break down treatment barriers for domestic violence victims who live in rural communities.

Lack of accessibility to services, lack of transportation, increased isolation, and higher prevalence of poverty all contribute to rates of domestic violence in rural communities significantly above the national average, Pettrow said. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health, women in small rural areas reported the highest prevalence of intimate partner violence (22.5 percent) compared to 15.5 percent for urban women. Rural women also reported a higher severity of physical abuse than their urban peers, yet rural women typically lived three times further from the closest domestic violence services and have fewer recovery and shelter options than urban women, the study found.

The Rural Outreach Project will bring Providence House services directly into the rural community for the first time, Pettrow said. The project is intended to increase awareness of domestic violence and accessibility to domestic violence services in rural communities by locating services within the community and integrating services with other providers, she added.  Services will include domestic violence education, case management, legal and housing advocacy, and information and referral.

Better serving communities

“Beyond the life-altering crisis services directly provided to those experiencing trauma, with this new funding Providence House will invigorate communities with additional resources, build collaborations with those diligently working to make a difference, and establish networks that will foster community support,” Pettrow said.

In 2017, Catholic Charities’ two Providence Houses provided more than 20,100 counseling hours to adults and children impacted by domestic abuse; provided shelter to more than 350 individuals; fielded more than 3,800 hotline calls; and trained nearly 7,000 people in domestic violence education.

Here’s a look at Providence House’s safe house in Burlington County:

For help: To reach Providence House, call (856) 824-0599 in Burlington County or (732) 350-2120 in Ocean County.

For more information, contact: Mary Pettrow, associate director, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton Providence House Domestic Violence Services, at [email protected] or (856) 824-0599, ext. 8609 or (732) 350-2120, ext. 8415.

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