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Drive Aims to Boost Non-Mainstream Domestic-Violence Groups


Tuesday, July 21, 2020   

MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- An initiative is under way to extend the reach of smaller nonprofits in Wisconsin that assist victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

The awareness effort in Milwaukee focuses on groups deemed culturally specific. Organizers have said in communities of color, victims might be reluctant to seek help from mainstream organizations, especially those with ties to law enforcement.

Antonia Vann is executive director at The Asha Project, one of several programs involved with the "We Are MKE" effort. She said women of color who have been victimized often are fearful of the ripple effect if they report abuse.

"They are intentionally not telling because of the risk of losing their children, or the risk of deportation," Vann said.

She said these smaller organizations often lack access to police data that can help them get a better sense of how to respond to domestic violence in their communities.

As for funding, Vann said they're not trying to take money away from mainstream groups. She said there's enough funding to be shared so all victims have access to the support they need.

Nonprofits across the country have struggled financially during the pandemic crisis. Vann said that's why it's crucial to steer more support toward smaller domestic-violence programs so they can build capacity for women who might be facing greater threats right now.

"The shelter in place was really dangerous for a number of victims because they were locked in," she said.

In 2017, Wisconsin saw nearly 30,000 cases of domestic violence. More than 9,000 victims were identified as Black, and more than 1,000 were identified as Asian-American or Native American. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said due to data-collection issues, it was not able to create a category for Hispanic women.

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