Chicago Hearing Society has domestic violence program

March 8, 2012 10:06:55 AM PST
One out of every four women in the U.S. will be physically assaulted or raped by an intimate partner. Domestic violence happens in all cultures, religions and classes, including disabled women.

Support is available to help this population, especially those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Communication barriers are a key factor for deaf and hard of hearing women who are victims of domestic violence. Chicago Hearing Society has a program to help these individuals and it's the only one in the state of Illinois.

CHS's domestic violence program started in 2000. Jill Sahakian is the director of CHIS, a division of the Anixter Center.

"It's important to note that our services are crisis intervention, helping people develop a safety plan, helping them file a police report, educating them about order of protection," Sahakian said. "We do some short-term counseling, we accompany them to court, make sure that the police and that the courts get an interpreter for them."

Confidentiality is essential between service provider and domestic violence victim.

"Everybody would say everybody knows everybody's business and that's why it's very important that people realize that confidential here does not get in the community," she said.

CHS also works with other significant service providers.

"We begin by informing places such as hospital emergency rooms and police departments, not just Chicago but suburban areas as well that we were available and they could make referrals to us" Sahakian said.

"We received a grant several years ago to produce a DVD we call 'Deafening Silence" about the special needs of deaf and hard of hearing victims of domestic violence," Sahakian said. "We distribute that nationwide?in smaller programs, in rural areas or smaller communities that may not have specialized programs could at least do some training with their staff so that they could see them or even hospital emergency room staff."

CHS is not a shelter.

"That's when we rely on other domestic violence agencies who have comprehensive services to take over, but we very often provide that connection to the other resources," she said.

CHS'S domestic violence program is funded by a grant from the state of ILLINOIS. They are looking to maintain and grow the program.

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