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.