Now in its 21st year of work, Sakhi is proud of the great efforts of so many in the field to bring an end to violence against women. As the movement becomes stronger, we are able to seethe problem through various lenses. We also are able to see the essential role of collaboration in accomplishing our end goal of an oppression-free existence for women by promoting awareness and change on various levels.
Sakhi’s principal role has been to work directly with survivors of violence. Sakhi provides emotional support, informs women of their rights, refers women to the benefits and resources available to them, provides court accompaniments and language assistance, and other direct service work. We, alongside other direct service providers, are, in essence “the eyes and ears,” on the ground and have the potential to present the real-time concerns of women to those institutions that are entrusted with assisting us in our search for violence-free lives.
Feedback from direct service providers is a necessary requirement for progress to be made in the domestic violence field by government agencies, academic institutions and other community-based organizations. This feedback can often taken the form of statistics and data about how our work is actually affecting women. Speaking from the perspective of a non-profit, we know that we carry the responsibility of giving feedback to government leaders and community activists about what improvements are necessary. We also present a clearer perspective on the effectiveness of various programs to improve the lives of those receiving services.
For several years, Sakhi and several other service-providers have collaborated with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault in their quest to engage immigrant women in effective ways to promote awareness of sexual and domestic violence and reduce the problem in immigrant communities. The Action Research for Immigrant Social Empowerment (ARISE) coalition was formed to build coalitions with other community-based organizations to raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence. Through research and advocacy, the goal of the ARISE coalition is to study issues that affect immigrant communities, disseminate valid findings to policy makers and government leaders and advocate for improved policies that can better serve the needs of immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
In connection with ARISE, currently Sakhi is participating in a research study aimed at exploring the effects of several forms of violence among immigrant women and the patterns of seeking informal and formal assistance for their violent situations. The study will also explore the responses survivors receive when accessing services from city and government institutions. As survivors access these formal sources, the study will look at the barriers and enablers women experience as they attempt to free themselves from a violent relationship. In addition, the study will also serve to document the specific hurdles community based organizations face as they attempt to provide services to immigrant women.
This project is of great value to the women we work with as many have experienced a sense of hopelessness when seeking help. As we begin to conduct these interviews, we are mindful and respectful that survivors may still not be ready to fully disclose some of the abuse they have surpassed. Though we are sensitive to the survivor’s discomfort, we find it important that the effects of violence on the progress of women are captured even when the violence is outside the realm of physical abuse. As we embark on this study, we aim to improve our services as service providers and assist our survivors on their road to healing and recovery. In this way, the movement to end violence will take another positive step forward.