The History of DVRC Saratoga
1970’s: A Need Identified
Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County (DVRC) has been providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Saratoga County for over two decades. During the late 1970’s, a group of concerned community members allied to brainstorm ways to help women and children who were victims of domestic abuse. Many of these individuals, including Sister Charla Cummins and Betsy Davis, saw a need in our community that was not being addressed and championed our community’s response to domestic violence.
1980’s: A Community that Cares
In 1982, these Saratoga County residents formed the Task Force Against Domestic Violence, providing counseling and crisis intervention to women and children victimized by domestic violence. Initially, the agency was entirely volunteer-based. Volunteers offered support, transportation, clothing and financial assistance to women and children fleeing abuse. They staffed a hotline which offered crisis intervention, counseling, and information and referral services. By opening their own homes to families in crisis, they coordinated a network of safe homes to provide emergency shelter to women and children. One local hotel owner even sheltered domestic violence victims in the hotel. As word spread of the help available, the demand for services increased; shortly thereafter a paid staff position was created.
1990’s: Responding to the Diverse Needs of all Family Members
Many women victimized by domestic violence also experience sexual victimization. Sexual assault victims often have needs for counseling and support that are similar to those of domestic violence victims. In 1992, Saratoga Rape Crisis merged with Domestic Violence Services and began serving victims of sexual assault as well as domestic violence. In 1995, with the extensive support from the community, we relocated our shelter to its current (confidential) location. Our agency takes great pride in maintaining a beautiful, homelike environment that adapts itself to the unique needs of each family seeking safety and respite.
Over the next five years we added new programs and increased the number of paid staff to more effectively meet the needs of those we serve. We implemented a legal advocacy department to help victim’s access law enforcement and judicial response. We also added a full time case manager, who focused exclusively on linking clients with resources and support services. In 1999, with the assistance of Leadership Saratoga we implemented our Safe Pet Partnership which provides assistance to pets that have been abused or neglected because of violence in the home and also offers pet protection and care so the family can access safe housing. Also in 1999, DVRC implemented a sexual assault forensic examination program (SAFE). This was one of the first SAFE programs in New York State. The SAFE program is an integral component in our community’s coordinated response to eradicate crimes of sexual victimization.
2000s: Expanding our Services to Achieve Outcomes
Increasingly, we find victims are unable to leave abusive living environments because they are unable to provide the basic needs for themselves and their children. Finding the financial resources to ensure that the household has adequate food, housing, and medical care is often a daunting task. Inability to provide for these basic needs of a family is a primary reason why victims remain in abusive situations. To address this issue, we have developed programs to help families become economically self sufficient. Project Hope and Power, a collaboration started in 2004 between DVRC and Soroptimist International of Saratoga County, helps women improve their financial management skills and to increase their employment capabilities. In 2007, we began both a transitional and a permanent supportive housing program that provides safe housing to families to help them become self-sufficient.
2010s: Community Involvement
While helping victims in need continues to be a major focus of our mission, we realized that it is only by increasing awareness that we can have a lasting impact on our community and END relationship and sexual abuse. To this end we have expanded our presence in Saratoga County school districts to work with elementary through high school students to better understand and practice healthy and unhealthy relationships. We have initiated the Ballston Area Community Allies program, a partnership of business, school, government, and not-for-profit organizations and residents, to create awareness and prevention strategies to end abuse and violence. With the generous help of Leadership Saratoga, Cengage Learning, and Tone Creative we have created campaigns and a web and social media presence to connect with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to identify and start a conversation with folks who need help. We believe that together, we CAN end relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County – but we’re ALL going to need to take action.
Throughout the past 30 years, there has been one consistent factor—the generous and thoughtful support of a community who cares. Thank you for your continued support…with your help we will end intimate partner violence in the near future.