Mission and History
CHETNA empowers South Asians affected by domestic violence, inspiring them to rebuild their lives.
CHETNA (Sanskrit for Consciousness, Feeling) is a grass-roots non-profit organization incorporated in 2005 by a small group of volunteers. CHETNA first began offering confidential and compassionate support to individuals who were at risk for further abuse or neglect through our Helpline and Peer Support/Advocacy services. Board members and volunteers provided information, referrals, interpretation/translation, meals, clothing, court accompaniment and emotional support to victims to assist them in exploring their options and navigating through the system.
Expanded Programs and Services
In 2011, CHETNA was able to secure office space in order to have a safe and private location to answer helpline calls, meet with clients and house confidential documents. This was followed by the hiring of our first full time employee in 2013.
In 2012, CHETNA started a micro finance program to assist clients by providing small interest free loans as they navigated the complex social service system on their journey toward self-sufficiency. These loans provided clients the ability to obtain education or certifications to enhance their job skills, purchase vehicles and pay for attorney fees during divorce or immigration proceedings.
CHETNA partners with local domestic violence shelters in order to find safe housing for clients when they initially leave their abusive partner. However, most shelters only provide housing in times of crisis for up to 90 days. CHETNA therefore rolled out our Flexible Transitional Housing Program in 2014 to accommodate the long term housing needs of our clients. Through this program, eligible clients are provided set up costs, rental and utility assistance for up to 6 months.
2015 saw the hiring of our second full time employee and continued expansion of our services. Case management now constitutes the core of our program services. Our case manager assists clients in establishing safety, identifying their needs and goals, and working towards achieving those goals.
CHETNA currently provides holistic services for our clients so that they may achieve safety and enhance their skills, education and employability while working towards healing and well-being in their lives. In 2016, CHETNA developed our new Contracted Therapy Program allowing us to provide culture/language specific counseling for our clients.
CHETNA strives to shed light on the topic of family violence and make it a part of the dialog in the South Asian and local community of DFW by hosting trainings, informational booths, events and seminars.
Domestic Violence in the South Asian Community
South Asian victims of domestic violence face many challenges including language, immigration status, lack of family support, multiple batterers, and cultural and/or religious barriers. These barriers often keep individuals in an abusive situation for longer periods of time and prevent them from seeking outside assistance.
Research indicates that the number of South Asian victims may be higher than the national average. A well-known study conducted in the Boston area showed that more than 40% of the 160 South Asian women surveyed indicated that they were victims of intimate partner violence (Raj A, Silverman J. 2002).
CHETNA aims to provide long term holistic services and works in conjunction with existing resources and mainstream agencies to bridge the gap for our clients.