Spotlight on 2021 COVID-19 Emergency Response Microgrant Awardees

Content Warning: The following contains information related to sexual assault and domestic violence, including some details regarding common abuse tactics. If you or a loved one is a survivor in search of resources, contact the National Deaf Hotline to connect with a Deaf advocate at VP# 855.812.1001. Email, TTY and live chat are also available here.

Domestic Violence Support for Deaf Survivors

Founded in Oakland, California in 2003, DeafHope has a mission to “end domestic and sexual violence in Deaf communities through empowerment, education and services.” A grassroots organization formed by women of the Deaf community, DeafHope has since worked collaboratively with the Alameda County Family Justice Center in order to provide culturally specific services for Deaf survivors, as well as give them access to the resources already available from more than 30 on-site agencies at the Family Justice Center.


As high as 75% of people stayed with their abusers longer out of financial need.

Financial Security for Survivors of Domestic Violence

According to DeafHope, economic abuse is one tactic an abuser may use in order to maintain control. Economic abuse may look like forcing a partner to ask permission before accessing or spending money, taking away SSI checks or bank account access, spreading rumors to make a job search difficult, and more. In the months of the pandemic, DeafHope advocates have observed an uptick in the frequency of economic abuse, particularly in the form of Social Security-related scams targeting Deaf seniors, as well as reports of people who cause harm stealing government-issued stimulus checks from Deaf survivors and their children.

Even if an abuser is not specifically employing economic abuse tactics, financial concerns can still make it more difficult for a person to maintain safety. According to one survey of DV shelter residents, the number of people who stayed with their abusers longer out of financial need was as high as 75%. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, financial insecurity among survivors has only increased.

Domestic Violence and the Pandemic

COVID-19 has impacted survivors’ ability to not only find safety, but stability: multiply-marginalized survivors in particular now face even more challenges in finding stable employment, securing safe housing, obtaining legal status, and sharing their natural gifts with their communities.

According to DeafHope, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) survivors are faced with unprecedented debt in the form of unpaid back rent, overdue utility bills, on top of the constant worry of getting an eviction notice. LGBTQ+ survivors are reporting increased frustration in securing culturally affirmative emergency shelter and stable housing due to homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism. Deaf seniors are not only among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, but are frequently socially isolated, which is one of the strongest indicators of elder abuse.

DeafHope was awarded $10,000 for their project titled, “Ensuring Survivors’ Safety Through Economic Security (ESSTES),” under CSD Unites Community Foundation’s latest cohort of COVID-19 Emergency Response micrograntees. This project will provide direct financial assistance to Deaf survivors from multiply-marginalized communities, combined with the ongoing advocacy that DeafHope already provides. As a result of this project, DeafHope aims to empower survivors to develop skills of self-sufficiency and healthy interdependence and safe environments.

“It is a grave reality that Deaf survivors with marginalized identities are among the community members who are most impacted by economic abuse,” said Empowerment Director Brian Berlinski. “DeafHope is grateful for the philanthropic support of the CSD Unites Community Foundation for helping to transform the financial inequities faced by Deaf survivors.”

More Microgrant Awardees

Want to learn more about the awardee cohort? Check out 5 other organizations who received COVID-19 Emergency Response microgrant funding here, or stay up to date with Foundation news by subscribing to our newsletter.

DeafHope is an organization dedicated to ensuring survivors from deaf communities in the Bay Area have access to support and resources. When you donate to CSD Unites Community Foundation, you’re helping us dedicate funds and resources to multiple nonprofits like DeafHope, so they’re better equipped to sustain or grow the critical services they provide for our deaf communities. Make a one-time or monthly contribution to the CSD Unites Community Foundation here!

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