DVSA Communities was founded in 2019 by Erika Castillo, a 5th-generation survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. Erika has extensive professional experience serving domestic and sexual violence victims as a family court advocate and crisis intervention advocate for survivors living in shelters. A trained paralegal, she has assisted survivors with parentage cases, orders of protections, and divorce cases. She also provided criminal advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She currently leads a growing team of dedicated professionals with plans for additional growth to meet the needs of Latino women in Aurora.
“With the funding we received from the Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation we are able to expand our Community Navigator program, including training more navigators and offering them a 24-Hour Hotline to support them in their work,” said Erika Castillo, Executive Director and Founder at DVSA Communities. “In addition to receiving extensive training, the Community Navigators have immediate access to the hotline support team, helping navigators to better understand and more effectively work through the many barriers that victims and survivors might experience when accessing domestic violence and sexual assault services.”
An important area of focus for DVSA Communities is to have Community Navigators work closely with Aurora community leaders. Said Erika, “Many victims of abuse approach community leaders to seek help for other services such as food, shelter, rental assistance, legal assistance, immigration services, and health care. We want to work with community leaders interested in learning more about domestic violence services, including how to address gender-based violence in a way that is culturally related to the Latino community.”
The support group is another crucial DVSA program component. Support group leaders provide crisis intervention as needed, safety planning, short-term crisis intervention, risk assessment, information, referrals, advocacy to ensure that the victims of domestic abuse are aware of services, as well as their legal rights under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986.
Support group meetings in Aurora are held from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm every Monday. DVSA has plans to soon add another three hours per week with another support group on Thursdays from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. All clients are served in Aurora. If a survivor comes to DVSA from other counties or cities, once their needs are identified, they are referred to appropriate agencies, police departments, and court houses for services closer to their homes.
To learn more about DVSA Communities services or to sign up for a support group, please call 630-999-9029.