The Jenesse Center Inc. is the oldest domestic violence intervention program in South Central Los Angeles. Founded in 1980 by five African American women who survived years of domestic violence, its mission is to provide victims of household beatings and mistreatment with a comprehensive, centralized support base to assist them in addressing their immediate crisis and change the patterns of their lives.
Karen Earl, executive director, survived under the shadow of domestic violence. When she left her desperate situation, she said she began to focus daily on a new “Oh my God” experience in discovering the countywide epidemic in violence against women.
“I asked questions like, ‘when these families live in fear, how can they function?’ I lost my shyness,” Earl explained, “and decided to tell the story of families, particularly the children.”
Earl said when she began listening to the victims and telling their stories, “the result has been a change in the conversations about domestic violence in our communities,” she explained. “It is not a women’s issue. It is a family issue. It is a community issue. Men are involved. We must teach self-sufficiency and enable women to make good decisions for themselves.”
Among the principles adhered to are: “(1) domestic violence is a family issue; (2) women and children are its primary clients; (3) clients should receive culturally relevant and culturally competent services and (4) clients must receive more than shelter. They must receive life skills.”
The Jenesse Center wants its services to transform victims into survivors, with staff providing aid to women who are often turned away elsewhere because of financial difficulty, cultural/religious issues or simple language barriers. Officials stress that public opinion and public policy must be impacted to combat domestic violence.
Because residents of South Central Los Angeles have traditionally not viewed domestic violence as a major issue which had to be confronted with the same vigor and commitment as civil rights or housing or job discrimination, women of color have been reluctant to call the police when they are battered. They erroneously believed the male perpetrator would be better off not being arrested and they would retain esteem by not “bashing” the Black male.
Jenesse counters such misconceptions via the programs and services that meet all the critical needs of its clients.
Jenesse Center Inc. will host April 6-8 its Silver Rose Awards Gala and Auction, as well as the Halle Berry Celebrity Golf Classic in support of services to prevent domestic violence.
Victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Jenesse Center Inc. at P.O. Box 8476, Los Angeles, CA 90008. For more information, call (323) 299-9496.