Monday, March 26, 2018

Asha is Back on The Block!

          After an unexpected closing Asha is Back! Relaunch -
                A successful year with the help of great friends...End Domestic Abuse WI

The Asha Project, founded in 1988 as Asha Family Services, Inc., has for 30 years provided culturally-relevant services to African-American victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and community violence in Milwaukee (MKE). Since January 2017, the Asha Project has designed a new logo (Phoenix rising from helping hands) and has been operating as a project of End Domestic Abuse WI (End Abuse), the statewide coalition of more than 70 domestic violence programs in WI.  The relationship is unique and something to be watched for replicability. End Abuse has a 40-year history of grant management, providing technical assistance to support service delivery to victims, victim-serving organizations, systems, and policy advocacy.  End Abuse is well-organized to manage the administrative aspects of this project, while the Asha Project personnel possess the depth of experience and skills to provide culturally-relevant services to victims in, particularly African American communities. 

The Asha Project’s (TAP) core beliefs about serving the populations identified are centered around understanding, appreciation, and consideration of historical trauma faced by the African-American community. TAP works from the values of respect, patience, identity, and love for the people and the community we work in. We are the population we serve. TAP is specifically designed to provide another option for victim services primarily for African-American and similar victims who will not seek services elsewhere. (1) 

Highlight Human Trafficking Victim Services!     

 TAP offers culturally-specific services to victims of human trafficking who reside within African-American communities in Wisconsin. (1)  

The primary role of the Human Trafficking Victim project includes:
·      Conducting ongoing outreach and awareness activities to alert potential victims of services
·      Identifying victims of sex trafficking
·      Providing direct services to trafficking victims, as requested
·      Working in collaboration with law enforcement and referring victims, as requested
·      Providing support and advocacy to victims while they are engaged with law enforcement or the larger criminal justice system
·      Participation in the MKE Human Trafficking Task Force and other related systems-collaboration meetings aimed at addressing human trafficking
TAP General Victim Services include: 
·     Walk-in advocacy - victim advocates/specialists are available at the community-based office located in the heart of the community 
·     Telephones(Day time) answered by trained advocates
·     Social media platform referrals - Maintain an informational social media presence on several platforms frequented by victims and survivors and/or their friends and loved ones
 ·     Crisis intervention that may and often does take place at different locations
·     Victim Safety Planning
·     Victim relocation assistance
·     Healing activities
·     Individual/Group counseling from a cultural perspective 
·      Weekly/Bi-Weekly Support Groups, called Sister Circles, are conducted within the community. Sister Circles Support groups build camaraderie between women who share ancestry and daily life experiences and whose reality are embedded in the African-American community
·      Referrals and accompaniment to relevant services (AODA, Mental Health, Sexual Health, etc.)

Cultural competency with African-American populations is the hallmark of The Asha Project (TAP) design. The TAP project director (Antonia Drew Vann) has over 30 years of training and experience in providing culturally specific and competent services to particularly African-American victims of domestic/sexual violence and sex trafficking both in the community and within prisons.  TAP provides another option for African American domestic/sexual abuse and trafficking victims who will not access or limit their use of mainstream victim services for a variety of reasons. TAP’s services are informed by decades of experience serving the African-American community in Milwaukee. The service methods are designed by and for African American people, including field renowned academic scholars, to address both the historical trauma experienced by the African-American community in Milwaukee and the trauma of domestic/sexual abuse experienced by victims in the context of the African-American community. In other words, the context the violence was created in, determines the content of methods used. 

The target group of African American program participants often view a non-clinical, culturally embedded and familiar environment as comforting, non-threatening, and welcoming. The environment is the people, surroundings, the sounds of the community, food, music, and our artwork, exhibits and decor allow the target visitors to see and feel themselves. 

The Asha Project (TAP) program subtitled, Somebody’s Daughter (SD) targets program participants particularly between the ages of 18 and 40, including victims who are sex-trafficked and refuse or avoid accessing mainstream services due to a historical mistrust of police and systems. SD clients receive intense culturally-responsive, non-judgmental, case management and community wraparound victim services. SD uses multiple social media platforms to identify, serve and investigate human trafficking cases. Clients often use word-of-mouth and social media avenues to vet us prior to engagement.
Somebody’s Daughter(SD)– is designed to humanize victims of Human Trafficking including those who are or were involved in the criminal justice system due to force or coercion.  Utilizing culturally-competent methods, Somebody’s Daughter offers a variety of supports identified by like victims. 

TAP is viscerally connected to the community it is created to serve. We are aware that there are remaining gaps in services for some victim groups, and we know experientially they are often younger women of color who are low income and reside in segregated, economically-depressed and fragile communities who remain underserved as they are often more difficult to reach.  For them, we believe culture and economics play significant roles thus widening gaps in services that this project seeks to fill.
Based on tips and referrals, we talk to older teens and young adult women victims of sex trafficking on the street and at community events about our program and options in the community to consider for help when they are ready. Currently, we receive such referrals from word of mouth, family and friends of victims and through social media networks. 

[1]HT victims frequently reach out to TAP from surrounding communities such as Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay/Fox Valley. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Asha Ends Domestic Abuse and Sex Trafficking Victim Services

            After nearly three decades of serving the African American community in both Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, Asha Family Services, Inc. (Asha), has discontinued its Sherman Park Community based services to victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. As the only local provider of culturally responsive services to African Americans in these cities, Asha has a long, rich and successful history of providing exemplary victim services that remain unmatched. The organization has designed and implemented innovative programs, services, and strategies that are created by African Americans and intended specifically to address the complex challenges faced by African American victims in the community and all groups of victims housed within prisons.  One of several unique qualities of Asha’s victim service model is who benefits. Asha’s client base continues to be approximately 66% African American, 28% White, 4% Native and 2% Latina. However, Asha and the work of the agency have now come to an end.

            After 28 years of support for its culturally specific and other services to African American survivors from the State of Wisconsin, Asha will no longer be receiving State Domestic Abuse funding. For many years, Asha’s work was deeply valued and strongly supported by the State of Wisconsin. Yet, in recent years, the shift in the state’s political climate has created an environment where culturally responsive services focused on helping those with the greatest needs is no longer a priority for some, despite the wealth of evidence supporting the need for such services both locally and nationally. A host of growing research continues to indicate a strong need for culturally specific services particularly in minority communities experiencing significant levels of poverty, unemployment, crime and other social ills.  Due to the lack of funds, we cannot continue our critical work of supporting domestic abuse and sex trafficking survivors in the community and within prisons. As such, it is painful to end the provision of direct victim and abuser-behavior services in the community we love.

          Note that we have ceased all Asha services that include: Regular office hours, Crisis calls and response, Intake assessments, Advocacy and accompaniment, Individual counseling, Case management, Youth and Teen Dating violence services, Anger management, Ujima Men’s Services as well as work with victims and abusers in prisons. We have transitioned our caseload of victims and survivors to other supported domestic violence victim serving programs.

            Please understand that the decision to dissolve the agency is terribly difficult. It is not only the loss of access to community-based, culturally specific services and employment for Asha employees, as well, it is a horrible loss to the community and the State. For nearly 28 years, Asha continues to be the only African American, culturally specific, domestic abuse organization in the State of Wisconsin. Accompanying that, I am the only African American, Executive Director of a domestic violence organization in the entire State, comprised of 72 counties and over 73 victim-serving programs. This aspect in itself has been arduous at times and extremely demanding. It is uncomfortable, exhausting and burdensome, because I am the only one. Being the only one to make certain that the voices of African American victims are heard, I am often pulled in multiple directions daily to serve on committees and be present at tables for meetings upon meetings. Simultaneously, I am challenged to be present for discussions where policy is formed or for providing expertise in a variety of areas such as, domestic abuse and sex trafficking victim services; cultural competency with African American populations and 30 years of working with men and women in prisons who are perpetrators and/or victims.

It has been an honor and a privilege to learn from and serve victims and survivors of abuse and violence in Wisconsin and across the country. 

It has been an honor and privilege to work side-by-side with a host of incredibly talented personnel and volunteers in service to all victims and to those in the African American community of Milwaukee and Madison. 

It has been an honor and privilege to learn from and work along-side some of the smartest, passionate and courageous activists and advocates both locally and nationally. As well, it has been an honor to mentor some of the brightest rising advocates and those who are now shining stars in the field. 

It has been a humbling journey.

            Much love and thanks to those who found value in our work. I continue to believe God is in Control, and prayerful that a change will come.  

For further information: Contact Antonia Drew Vann at:      

More to come!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Rape, Murder, Military and Coverup - ISeeNews: Abuse of Women in US Military - PFC LaVena Johnson - T...

Warning: Some images in the ISeeNews youtube video are graphic.

Rape, Murder, Military and Coverup

The words, Military + Rape + Murder + Cover Up should not even go together in the same sentence; or, should they and it's just my naiveté?  In any case, like me, there are people who want to know about the death of 19 year old PFC LaVena Lynn Johnson who died in Iraq in 2005.  This issue is not just about the shadowy and cloaked circumstances of LaVena's case which unfortunately is just one of many -- it's also about us as American citizens. 

From 2005 to present day, LaVena's death remains embedded in the hearts and minds of those who love her most. Her parents will not 'stand down' and have sustained a vocal and vigilent campaign seeking justice.  As American citizens, we need to be outraged and demand answers as to why LaVena Johnson's brutal death was ruled a 'suicide' by the Military.  This heartbreaking story without an end in sight is alive and not going anywhere. This is just one of many stories that the military hopes will just go away. 

LaVena was a world away in Iraq fighting for her country in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sadly and shamefully her death did not come at the hands or acts of combating forces but came at the hands of those she fought along side. The Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner said her death was a 'suicide'.  Well...LaVena's dead body told a very different story.

In addition to a gun shot wound to the head, there was evidence of a sexual assault, she had a broken nose, loose and knocked out teeth, bite marks, facial abrasions, dislocated shoulder, acid burns on her genitals and her body was set on fire. AND, as for the gun shot, there was no bullet or bullet casing at the scene--WTH!!  "Suicide??" -- that is insulting to say the least.

I am shocked to learn that the issue of sexual assaults, murder and the military is quite old, however, is inching further and further into the light.  American citizens need to know what happened to this young woman. We need to know who is responsible for her death and why did the military rule this a  suicide?  Is the U.S. Army protecting individuals and covering up a brutal rape and murder?

Given the savagery and viciousness of LaVena's death, I find it hard to fathom that the military actually believed they could simply say her death was 'self inflicted' and folks would accept it and just walk away. Unbelievable!!

More to come!

Youtube video: ISeeNews - March 2012. The Silent Truth

Tags: LaVena Johnson, Military Sexual Assault, Murder in the military, military coverup.
#whomurderedlavenajohnson, #sexualassaultinmilitary, #murderinmilitary

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Incarceration Nation | Moyers & Michelle Alexander

Link to full interview:
Full Show: Incarceration Nation | Moyers & Company |

Michelle Alexander, author of the book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, (2010) is  candid in her interview on mass incarceration with Bill Moyers on his show, Moyers & Company. 

Alexander, also an activist says there needs to be "abolition on the system of mass incarceration". She talks of being encouraged by the movement that she sees is building to end the system of mass incarceration in the U.S.

Moyers and Alexander discuss the issues and direct links to the "War on Drugs" born of the "Law & Order" movement that she states was in direct response to gains achieved by African Americans in the Civil Rights Movement. Alexander says, "A wave of punitiveness swept the nation...we failed to develop a moral consensus about how we treat one another".

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Judge convicted of racketeering for selling Black Children

Judge must serve 28 years

Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced For 28 Years For Selling Kids to the Prison System

Click the two links above for the full stories.   Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, 63, was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 28 years in prison for selling Black Children to private prisons.

Filled prison beds means increased profits for correctional facilities AND in this case, increased personal profit for Judge Ciavarella and his comrade, Judge Conahan. These 'bound by the law' individuals received more than $2.6 million dollars from PA Child Care, the privately run youth center for making sure that their prison beds were kept filled.  
Juveniles with minor offenses would be sentenced for months and even years for the love of money! As well, because Race matters only one particular group were those primarily sold.  One teenage girl was sentenced to three months in jail…" for creating a MySpace page that mocked her school’s assistant principal." "Ciavarella also sentenced another teen to 90 days in jail after a simple schoolyard fight."
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned some 4,000 convictions issued by him between 2003 and 2008, claiming he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles – including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Some of the juveniles he sentenced were as young as 10-years old.

Ciaverella is also ordered to pay $1 million in restitution.

SHOCKING - Human Trafficking statistics

SHOCKING - Share these human trafficking statistics with your friends -- if you can handle them - Living Faith - Home & Family - Catholic Online\









Most victims of human trafficking unknowingly enter the market after being lured by promises of work and opportunities by predatory individuals and organizations. Others are children that are literally sold into slavery by parents as a means to pay debt or to reduce the number of children they must feed.

Women tend to be the most frequent victims. This may be because they are fleeing gender inequality, forced marriages, or other misogynistic practices back home. In so doing, they get caught up in a cure that is worse than the disease. And sex appears to be the predominant use of females slaves.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Welcome Milwaukee Buck's Coach Larry Drew

Come out to meet and greet Coach Larry Drew, the new Head Coach of the Milwaukee Bucks! FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2013 from 5pm to 9pm at the beautiful river front restaurant - Ryan Braun's Graffito. In doing so at this event, you will help support the work of Asha Family Services, Inc., a 24 yr old non-profit domestic abuse prevention agency in ending domestic and sexual violence in our communities! Ticket donations are $50.00 (includes food and drink specials).  This is a family friendly event. As a matter of fact, to support the work of the agency, my daughter ordered the first 2 tickets to bring my 13 year old grandson!

A new business friend recently said, "Everyone can do something"... to help end violence and abuse in our homes and relationships!

SILENT AUCTION ITEMS ARE AMAZING!!  The event's Auctioneer is Business Community Celebrity Ms. Martha Love!!

ITEM 1) The Milwaukee Bucks Honorary Team Attendant Package!  OMG!! This includes an opportunity for a youth (ages 10-17) to serve as a Honorary Team Attendant for one game during the 2013-14 Season!! AND...comes with four (4) complimentary game tickets AND... an opportunity to watch pre-game warm-up!!!!

ITEM 2) Milwaukee Bucks Behind the Scenes VIP Photo Experience! OMG!!   This includes tickets for four (4) to attend a 2013-14 season game...HOLD ON THERE IS MORE!!!  This also includes a Milwaukee Bucks Center Larry Sanders Autographed Jersey, AND, an opportunity to watch pre-game warm ups AND a chance to snap a photo pre-game with Bucks Center Larry Sanders!!!

ITEM 3) Dinner For Ten!! Carson's Prime Steaks & Famous Barbecue! OMG!! This includes dinner for TEN - 8 guests plus the attendance of Coach Drew and his guest in the private dining room of  the new Milwaukee downtown Carson's Prime Steaks & Famous Barbecue Restaurant. This is a great GIFT!

ITEM 4) Dom P'erignon Champagne Basket!!  A beautifully packaged basket of Dom Perignon and treats!!! 

ITEM 5) Premium Wine Basket!!  Beautifully package with a selection of treats!

 ITEM 6)  Gorgeous flowing train wedding gown!!  Victoria's Beaded Wedding Gown (size 10)

ITEM 7)  $250 Tattoo Certificate - Serenity Ink Tattoo Shop Also two (2) Original Framed Wall Hangings.

Learn more about Asha or consider a donation of any kind at


Rape in the Military, Domestic violence, sexual violence, murder, sex trafficking