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By Juliana Simpson, MA
Immigrant Family Advocate,Center for Women and Families; Member, CIVIC
In late 2010, the beginnings of our group were stirring as various community members came together in order to unify efforts and ideas to better serve the immigrant and refugee communities of Louisville. In the past two decades, international communities have risen sharply in the region. In2004, there had been “a 388 percent increase since 1990” in Louisville’s foreign-born population [A Profile of the Foreign-Born in the Louisville Metropolitan Area]. As these populations grow in Louisville so do their need for support services, including domestic violence and sexual assault survivor services. This type of violence happens to individuals of all backgrounds and cultures – assaults don’t discriminate, and occur too frequently in the U.S. and around the world.
With that in mind, our team decided to form CIVIC (Coalition on Intimate Violence in International Communities), to help meet these needs. We began meeting monthly with the intent to build community partnerships, and a deep desire to work on eradicating violence. After much discussion, it also became obvious that often limited English speakers are misunderstood, misguided, and aren’t always served to the best of the provider’s abilities. Our team felt that we must continue to better our response in serving immigrant and refugee survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
CIVIC felt that a conference needed to occur in order to begin this important work of educating our communities and service providers. In May 2011, we hosted The Intersection of Culture and Trauma: A Summit to Improve Access for Immigrant and Refugee Survivors of Sexual & Domestic Violence. Featured keynote speakers included Dr. Sujata Warrier, Director of the New York City Program of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence,and Susan Heffner Rhema, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in trauma therapy recovery, cross cultural psychological assessment and cross cultural competency training. The conference was a great success, connecting hundreds of social service workers, lawyers, health practitioners, immigrant and refugee advocates, international community leaders and other individuals from an impressive spectrum of fields, both from Louisville and beyond.
CIVIC meets every other month at different sites around Louisville. We rotate meeting sites within our coalition, so we can all become more familiar with each organization’s mission, services, and our local resources. You are welcome to join us to learn more about our team and work together with us to further social justice in our community. After all, Louisville is an official Compassionate City!
The next CIVIC meeting will be scheduled on March 15, 2012 from 2 – 4 p.m. at La Casita Center, 230Woodbine Street in Louisville, 40208. If you are interested in more information, attending a meeting or joining our mailing list, please contact Co-Chair Chris Owens at Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Profile of the Foreign-Born in the Louisville Metropolitan Area. Authors: Randy Capps,Karina Fortuny, Wendy Zimmermann, Will Bullock, Everett Henderson. Prepared by the Urban Institute for the Louisville Metro Office for International Affairs.Louisville, KY.
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