A Second Chance for Survivors of Domestic Violence
Second Chance Employment Services, the nation’s first and only nonprofit dedicated to comprehensive employment-placement services for victims of domestic violence, just received recognition in the form of a provision included in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
For the first time since the passage of the VAWA in 1994, a provision included in Section 602 of the bill (S. 47) now allows “employment counseling, occupational training, job retention counseling, and counseling on re-entry into the workforce,” eligible for federal grant funding.
SCES’s founder and president, Dr. Ludy Green, sees the new language as a step forward for women. “Employment is a key tool to end domestic violence,” said Green. “Before it wasn’t considered something that women could use. Women can become financially independent -- they don’t have to depend on welfare or their abuser.”
Victims of domestic violence are a diverse group, including the well educated. Green describes one of her favorite success stories of a woman, Betty, who obtained a master’s degree from Columbia University before finding herself in an abusive marriage.
When the family relocated to a new city and Betty became a stay-at-home mom, the abuse escalated. After her husband came close to injuring their 3-year-old son, Betty ran away from the relationship and found herself in need of a job but lacking the means to reenter the workforce, despite her education. While staying in a temporary shelter in northern Virginia, she was referred to Second Chance.
“She was a great American woman, bilingual and talented. We gave her an opportunity to work in our offices and from there she started interviewing at non-profits and landed a development position. She’s since been promoted there,“ said Green.
Green created SCES in September 2001, using her 20-year experience in human resource management, and since then Second Chance has placed 875 at-risk women in meaningful employment.The nonprofit provides training such as interview preparation and resume creation. In addition to job placement, SCES has served 3125 in the D.C. metro area with rehabilitation services including transportation, medical and mental health services, housing, clothing, and child care services.
“When women come from an abusive situation they need a holistic approach. We don’t burden them with questions; we ask them what we can do for them,” said Green. \ Since the renewal of the VAWA, the next step for Second Chance is national expansion. Currently serving seven cities in the area, Green and her team hope to expand to 52 cities across the United States through a partnership with corporate sponsor, Manpower.
“Women need jobs as a tool to be self sufficient and take care of their families,” said Green.
Second Chance Employment Services will hold its annual gala in September at the French Embassy.
For more information on Second Chance or to get involved, visit www.scesnet.org