The Toolkit is being developed in active collaborative partnership with six Centers for Independent Living located all over the United States. When it is complete it will contain both programmatic content to effectively address abuse awareness/ abuse prevention/ safety planning needs of individuals who experience a disability so they can live safer lives, and how-to program implementation content of use to help guide potential new adopters of the program who might want to implement such a program in their own CIL environment. Included in the program is the multimedia computer-based Safer and Stronger Program.
Our Lives is a multi-component program intended to help create safer lives for people with a disability or health conditions that affect their day-to-day lives.
Currently, trained advocates at Centers for Independent Living (CILs), which are community-based disability service organizations, are available to support CIL consumers who want to go through the Our Lives Program. During the Our Lives Program, CIL consumers will have the chance to identify potential areas of abuse they may be experiencing and create a safety plan and action steps for addressing the abuse.
The Safer and Stronger Program (SSP) is a computer-based abuse-awareness, abuse prevention, and safety-planning program that is gender-specific.
The SSP provides general and specific information on:
- Different types of abuse
- Tools on how an individual can self-assess their degree of risk or exposure to possible situations of abuse.
- Strategies and tips on individual safety planning.
- Video footage of other individuals sharing their abuse experiences and steps they took to correct and address the issue.
- Additional informational resources dealing with abuse-related issues and concerns.
After viewing the SSP, the individual identifies what abuse or safety-planning issues or concerns they would like to work on with support from CIL worker.
Please see the following sentences shared by CIL consumers who have participated in the SSP, and CIL workers.[by CIL consumers]
“I could always use more support. It’s something I don’t have enough of.”
“I was looking for something that I can better myself with.”
“I was able to increase my knowledge. Find out what’s available out there.”
“Well. It’s just that it [the Safer Stronger Program] provides a place for me to go because there’s not that much out there especially for males. This provided me an opportunity to vent. There are some concerns I had about what was going on in my life. You know, it [the Safer and Stronger Program] gave me options.”
“To have someone you can talk to it. It’s just a relief. Without anyone judging me or anything like that.”
“We [the CIL worker and I] can talk about anything, especially if I’m concerned or worried about service. … she helps me get over this negative feeling.”
“Everything she [the CIL worker] told me was very helpful. It [the Safer Stronger Program] it helped me. I feel very comfortable.”
“I wanted to get more knowledge about [violence awareness and safety]. Everything that I could learn about disability and how we could always help people.”
“I certainly don’t want any more violence in my life. It was possible for me to learn about dealing with violence.”
“I mean to be safe for me is having the right tools to protect yourself. The program has given me those tools.”
“It [the Safer Stronger Program] made me feel about what I was going through, like I’m not the only one. It gave me, gave me an understanding.”
“I was never taught what to do when [an abuse] situation happens to you. [The Safer Stronger Program] helped me gain knowledge to figure out what to do, how to be more prepared and more. You [the CIL worker] went step by step; it was easy for me to understand. You know what I need so I can get through these hard times.”
“I made a safety plan to help me through succeeding on this.”
“I like it how you guys [the CIL workers] show that I’m not the only person that’s been through this. The videos [in the Safer Stronger Program] showed me that other people go through the same thing that I am; it encouraged me to keep going through this program for sure.”
The [Safer Stroger] program was instrumental in showing me that they [other people with disabilities] too have experienced similar situations in their lives, whether it be physical emotional or sexual abuse.”
“I might as well go to the program because that would allow me to have a private place for future reference.”[by CIL workers]
“The Our Lives website offers new information to people with disabilities about violence, abuse, safety resources, and safety planning options.”
“At our center for independent living we are integrating the use of the Our Lives website into our routine service delivery protocols.”
“We are providing on-going training to our CIL staff about types of trauma related to violence and the effects of trauma on survivors and on those who support survivors.
“For our CIL, it’s been easy to infuse violence awareness into our daily CIL services.”
“We offer the Our Lives women’s and men’s programs to all of our current and new CIL consumers.”
“We have improved our trauma training for all CIL workers.”
“The women and men who have gone through the Our Lives programs have likes the programs. We made sure to offer the consumers breaks during the program because the content can sometimes be difficult to watch. Our consumers are telling others about the Our Lives program, so by word of mouth, more and more consumers are knowing that’s it available in our CIL.”
“The Our Lives program was needed in our CIL since we did not yet have a way to talk about interpersonal violence with the consumers we serve.”
“As we build trust with the CIL consumers, they are more likely to tell us about any violence and abuse they are experiencing, or have experienced in the past.”
“We are hosting cross-training about violence, using the Our Lives program, with other social service agencies such as Area Agencies on Aging, domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, and county-based services that support people with disabilities and the elderly.”
“In working with CIL consumers as they tell me about the violence they’ve experiences, it’s important for them to define what violence means to them; it’s important that they know what types of violence people with disabilities experience, and to understand what the cycle of violence is in the context of their own lives. I have really enjoyed my work with trauma survivors; there is such a need in our community.”
“In our CIL, we have been happy to adapt the Our Lives program into daily programming routines. We are committed to searching other types of funding in order to support the Our Lives work in our CIL.”