October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to help improve the lives of women and children in our Providence community, we’re working with Sojourner House in Rhode Island to help address a lesser known issue that affects victims of domestic violence: transportation.
The mission of Sojourner House is to promote healthy relationships by providing culturally sensitive support, advocacy, and education for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence; and to effect systems change.
HiRoad first got involved with Sojourner House through our relationship with Rhode Island Pride. And since that initial introduction, we’ve learned more about their work— and how important it is to support and advocate for victims in all facets of their lives, including access to safe and reliable transportation.
Abuse & Transportation
“Having access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation is one the biggest barriers experienced by the victims of abuse that we serve.” Said Sarah C. DeCataldo, Deputy Director of Advancement at Sojourner House. Abusers manipulate victims and utilize power and control tactics to instill fear in victims and keep them trapped in unsafe situations. Abusers who do have cars will oftentimes not allow the victim to use the vehicle or will not add the victim as an insured driver on their insurance. They will also utilize GPS devices or tracking apps to track their victim and their vehicle at all times, making the very act of driving this vehicle unsafe for these victims.
When victims are able to get out of abusive situations or flee for their safety, the challenges continue. Many victims do not have driver’s licenses or have had their IDs taken by their abuser. In other cases, they may not have access to a car, or have limited options for public transit. Victims with children also experience added stress of coordinating options that will safely accommodate their children.
“Because abusers have controlled many of the aspects of a victim’s life, having access to reliable and cost-effective transportation can be quite freeing and can help victims feel like they have a sense of control back over their own lives.”
Finding a path forward
Sojourner House serves over 1,000 victims of abuse each year, providing a safe haven and access to transportation through bus passes for clients who need them. “The transportation vouchers we are able to give victims do not have any stipulations, which means a victim can use it when and how they need it. Getting from Point A to Point B is now in their control instead of the control of someone else.” said DeCataldo. Help with transportation allows the survivor to focus on other parts of their healing journey, such as finding housing, applying for jobs, or addressing the trauma that they experienced through counseling and support groups.
“Getting from Point A to Point B is now in their control instead of the control of someone else.”
What we can do
It’s so important to recognize and support the big and small ways that lives are impacted by making the brave choice to escape an abusive situation. We’re inspired by survivors who are seeking a better path forward and want to honor their courage and help them drive their lives forward. This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we’re providing transportation vouchers to help empower survivors in Rhode Island to seek out a future they choose. There are so many other small ways to help address and end domestic violence. Sojourner House recommends:
- Being aware of the red flags and warning signs of abuse and providing support and information about resources, such as Sojourner House, to friends and family members.
- Being “positive bystanders” and intervening n a way that feels comfortable if you see or hear about an abusive situation.
- Modeling positive and healthy relationships and teaching youth about how to foster healthy relationships and communication.
- Getting involved with your local domestic violence agency by volunteering, starting a collection drive for items they need, attending a special event hosted by the agency, or making a financial donation.