Profile: Community Beyond Violence (formerly DVSAC)

CNL Member since:  2008

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Contact Information:
Facebook: DVSAC
Twitter: dvsacnc

Founded: 1978

Niko Johnson, Executive Director

Niko Johnson, Executive Director

DVSAC’s mission is to work with community partners to offer resources for building healthy relationships and for healing the effects of interpersonal violence.

This agency was founded 34 years ago in 1978 by a small dedicated group of Quakers wanting to promote peace, equality and save havens for victims of domestic violence. The vision is very much the same. Since that time, DVSAC has been the primary resource for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in western Nevada County.

Funding: Government grants, community foundations and private donors

How we have benefited from being a member of CNL:
A core piece of our mission is to work collaboratively with community partners to better provide for our clients and to be able to offer resources for any need they may have. Being a member of the Center for Non-profit Leadership has provided DVSAC with an amazing connection to other non-profits and community partners in our community.

DVSAC Volunteers

DVSAC Volunteers

Success Story:  Girl’s Circle Group-Union Hill
I had the privilege of being able to co-facilitate my first Girls Circle group at Union Hill in the Fall of 2012. This group consisted of a mix of 6th, 7th and 8th graders who were referred to the group by the school counselor. We started out with 12 students but had a solid core group of about 8 girls that attended most every session in our 10-week program.

Kristen and I started the group using activities from the “Friendship” curriculum. As the weeks progressed and relationships deepened, we were able to quickly pinpoint that family matters and bullying were two very big issues in the lives of these young girls. They realized their stories were similar and they all had things in common. At  week 5 we started another curriculum called “My Family, Myself”.  This allowed the girls to openly discuss with the rest of the group their feelings of being “left out” from their family, feeling “unwanted” and “alone”. The commonalities between the girls and their experiences at home then began to transfer to what was happening on campus. Kristen and I were able to brainstorm with the girls feelings that bullying invoke when it happens to them as well as when they see it or hear it happening to others.

Later, we gave them all post-its and had them anonymously write real examples of bullying that they’ve seen or experienced on campus and read them all aloud to the group. Next we drew a map of their school, complete with classrooms, playgrounds, hallways, and bathrooms. Each girl was given a sheet of sticky red dot labels and was asked to put red dots on the exact places on the campus map where bullying has taken place. The map quickly began to darken with the girls’ actual victimizations. This included everything from rude comments to inappropriate touching and from racist remarks to physical altercations. After the map was discussed and the “hot spots” were identified, we gave them sticky blue dots and asked them to identify the safe places on campus where they could go and know that they would be protected or out of the reach of bullying. The girls were able to sit back and look at the powerful visual they created by themselves.

For most of them, this was their first realization that bullying happens much more often and to many more students than they expected. They became empowered. They were no longer alone but now a part of a group, who maybe wouldn’t ordinarily have been friends, that banded together, that understood, that wanted to do something to change it. More brainstorming ensued. They came up with a whole list of ideas the school could do to help put a stop to this issue. Then they discussed viable options they have, as students and peers, to put a stop to bullying when they see it happening. On the 10th and final the girls had their school counselor come in and see first-hand the results of their Girls Circle time together. They presented their actual experiences, all their brainstorming lists and their school map. Their school counselor was touched and has asked to bring this information to the next school wide staff meeting.

Needless to say, it was incredibly moving for us, as facilitators, to watch these young girls take action for something they feel passionate about. They identified a major issue that not only affects them, but their peers as well, and they took steps to make a change. They support each other outside of Girl’s Circle and they are working on their relationships with their peers which will hopefully positively affect their family lives as well. We’re proud to say these beautiful girls are now peer advocates on their campus and setting positive examples for other students to follow.

Stephanie Terrassa
Prevention Advocate,
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition