History of AVDA
Since 1980, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse has provided advocacy, safety planning, and legal representation to over 60,000 victims of domestic abuse and intervention services to over 10,000 domestic violence perpetrators.
AVDA's Legal Advocacy Project operates with an all volunteer staff in space donated by Gulf Coast Legal Foundation.
Rhonda Gerson, AVDA's Executive Director, serves on Houston Police Department task force created by Chief Lee P. Brown to ensure that HPD's arrest policies complied with state laws criminalizing domestic violence.
Increased arrests and improved prosecution mean that more batterers were being court-ordered into counseling. So, too, are battered women seeking intervention to end the abuse, but not the relationship. Such specialized services for domestic violence perpetrators are not readily available. AVDA contracts with Toby Myers, Ed.D., to expand her PIVOT Project with perpetrators to include a psycho-educational counseling group for men who are abusive in their intimate relationships.
AVDA receives funds from Gulf Coast Legal Foundation for attorney and new paralegal.
Dr. Toby Myers is named to the Family Violence Advisory Committee, Texas Department of Human Services. Myers chairs this committee from 1984 to 1987.
Texas Council on Family Violence creates the Toby Myers Statewide Leadership Award. Myers also wins a Spotlight Award from the National Council on Crime Prevention.
The PIVOT Project adds Spanish-language services for Harris County participants.
AVDA is one of four sites selected for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded national study to evaluate the effectiveness of batterers' programs.
AVDA sits on the statewide Battering Intervention and Prevention Project Guidelines Revision Committee.
Rhonda Gerson retires as after 20 years as AVDA's founding Executive Director. Jennifer Holmes was hired as Executive Director.
BIPP wins contract to be the primary provider of intervention services to the Harris County Community Supervision & Corrections Department.
BIPP Director Jose Sanchez serves as chair of the Texas Council on Family Violence's Curriculum Subcommittee charged with developing an accreditation process for battering intervention service providers across the state.
AVDA reorganizes the Legal Advocacy Program, abandoning its traditional contract-attorney model for a staff-attorney model. Case acceptance decisions are now made within 24 hours and community emergency legal capacity is greatly improved. At year-end, AVDA has four full-time staff attorneys (including the Managing Attorney).
AVDA is featured in a film produced by Texas Equal Access to Justice Commission regarding the importance of legal aid services.
AVDA launches a Domestic Violence Clinic in cooperation with the Clinical Law Program of the University of Houston Law Center.
AVDA receives a "Helping Hands of Justice Award" from Lone Star Legal Aid.
BIPP wins one of first Family Protection Fee Grants, from monies raised through a fee assessed on each divorce filed in Harris County. The grant underwrites BIPP services for abusers referred by CPS and other units of the Harris Co. Family & Youth Commission.
AVDA's launches a Protective Order Project. A full-time staff of three – attorney, paralegal and client advocate – go on-site at District Attorney's Office (for overflow applicants) and at outlying battered women's shelters to improve access to the most basic of legal protections.
AVDA's Working Poor Initiative becomes reality, thanks to an extraordinary $50,000 grant from United Way funds a single attorney. AVDA can now serve working-poor victims who (1) earn too much for government legal aid but not enough for a private lawyer AND (2) are at high-risk of fatality violence using the Wynn Fatality Assessment.
BIPP expands to Galveston County at joint request of the local battered women's shelter, the Galveston Co. District Attorney and by vote of the Galveston Co. District Judges.
BIPP provided 23,084 hours of group counseling to 1,139 male and female abusers. Some 66% of the abusers "graduated" to hopefully lifelong patterns of non-violence.
A New Voices Fellowship – funded by The Ford Foundation – provides a dedicated lawyer for Katrina and Rita evacuees trapped in the cycle of family violence.
The Honorable Doug Warne recieves the Deedee Ostfeld Award, on the 30th anniversary of his authorship of the Texas Protective Order Statute.
AVDA was accepted as an affiliate agency of the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, the only charity to be admitted to the United Way membership in 10+ years.
Dr. Toby Myers recieves the Deedee Ostfeld Award.
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