National Helpline: Intervention & Prevention Service by Trained Advocates

A project of Sikh Family Center
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San Carlos, California, US
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Donate to help survivors like Preet*. 

During her 6 years of marriage, Preet* (pseudonym, to protect identity) faced verbal and physical abuse by her in-laws, her husband, and felt alienated from her young daughter. Her husband, also a physician, completely isolated her, recorded conversations, and threatened to use them in court should she ever try to leave.

Preet got in touch with Sikh Family Center for some much-needed support. Our peer counselors aided her in a number of ways, including:

  • Preparing Preet for the criminal hearing, informing her of her rights vis-à-vis the DA (District Attorney).
  • Getting in touch with Sikh community members in her area to arrange for rides to Gurdwaras and social check-ins.
  • Contacting organizations in Preet’s state that could help her get a restraining order
  • Mailing her gift cards for groceries and childcare items. 
  • Having our male volunteers speak with Preet’s father, validating his concerns and reassuring him.


About 8 months after our initial call with Preet, she attempted reconciliation with her husband, who kept promising he had changed (this is not uncommon in cases of family violence). 

  • A SFC peer counselor, non-judgmentally, provided Preet information and safety planning. 
  • We confirmed Preet understood she could call us back at any time.


Then, 2 months later, Preet’s husband again turned her out of the house alleging “ill behavior.” 

  • SFC assisted her in finding a divorce attorney.

Why is this so important right now?

This pandemic has brought attention to another sad and dangerous fact: what society has been doing in response to family violence and health risks is not enough. This is especially a problem within the Sikh community because: 

1. We don’t get the needed outreach and services from mainstream agencies and funders;

2. Our unique experiences and identities render the standard/mainstream services often inappropriate or insufficient for our community members.

What has Sikh Family Center been doing about this? 

Sikh Family Center has been the only organization focused on addressing gender-based violence in the Sikh American community in the United States. The need is greater than ever for more trained and experienced advocates who can provide essential, free, confidential, culturally appropriate services to those harmed within our community. At Sikh Family Center, we have been providing these services for years, through our Nationwide Helpline. The past year's challenges have only strengthened our resolve! 

How does our Nationwide Helpline work?

Through our Nationwide Helpline (866.SFC.SEWA) sangat members receive services in Punjabi and English including crisis intervention and advocacy that increases the range of options for those most vulnerable as well as referrals to appropriate resources. The Helpline is answered by trained peer counselors (40+ hours of training) committed to supporting community members facing or fearing any threats to their health, safety, and/or security. 

How do our peer counselors support survivors of violence like Preet?

Though we field a wide range of calls, the majority of our calls are from victim-survivors of gender-based violence. Our peer counselors provide a continuum of support that aims to always be empowering and not retraumatizing: through steady trust-building, cultural humility, and an approach that does not prioritize our preferred solutions, but rather centers and respects each survivor’s needs, circumstances, and preferences. Our services are 100% confidential—we never disclose who we are working with, though they may feel free to disclose what they choose, at their own pace, during their healing journey.

What training do SFC peer counselors go through?

SFC peer counselors go through comprehensive training so they are better prepared to support the diverse needs of the sangat. The goals of our training program include:

  • Understanding the dynamics of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence;
  • Building skills in crisis counseling; how to respond calmly and effectively under pressure;
  • Identifying trauma-centered responses; 
  • Committing to 100% confidentiality no matter the case;
  • Developing culturally-aware responses that neither make assumptions about “all Sikhs” nor ignore the unique realities of our diverse and beautiful community 
  • Employing an empowerment approach and becoming adept at appropriately directing victim-survivors to resources

 

Note: these skills translate well for any issues brought up by callers. Besides questions around domestic violence and dating violence, we routinely receive calls related to mental health issues; elder isolation or even abuse; and homelessness.

How will your donation help?

Your contribution will be used towards training new peer counselors who build the capacity of our Helpline. We will use your donations to create culturally appropriate training materials; provide stipends for facilitators and expert trainers in the field (both Sikh and non-Sikh); and provide support & resources for staff and peer counselors responding to Helpline calls.

 

YOU can help strengthen the community by donating today!

  • 03/01/2021

    Support Sikh Family Center's Nationwide Helpline

    SFC is working hard to address gender-based violence through our crisis response services. Our services are 100% confidential—we never disclose who we are working with, though they may feel free to disclose what they choose, at their own pace, during their healing journey. ⁠

    We are partnering with DVN to expand our Nationwide Helpline (866.SFC.SEWA) by training peer counselors. Donate today using the code SAFESPACE to have your donation matched. ⁠This is a great way to double your impact! 

    Thank you for your ongoing support; it makes a difference for many!

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