Jenesse Center works to combat domestic violence, hate

By Anita Bennett

Contributing Writer

CULVER CITY — One in five women and one in seven men across California will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, state figure show.

But an organization called Jenesse Center is using outreach and education to help reduce those numbers, advocate for human rights and stop hate.

Located in Culver City, the nonprofit is dedicated to domestic violence prevention and intervention. While its primary focus is bringing attention to violence against women, girls, men and boys, it also works to build bridges.

“One of the things that violence is rooted in is fear and hate,” said Angela Parker, director of training and programs at the center. And so we do work in the community around getting people to understand that you have to expand your idea of what domestic violence is, because domestic violence is any type of violence.”

The organization says its client base is about 50% African American and 50% Latino.

The latest figures from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations show hate crimes surged to 929 in 2022. That was the highest level in two decades. Black residents were among the most affected.

“African Americans were again grossly over-represented and made up 53% of racial hate crime victims,” the report said.

With that in mind, Jenesse Center is facing hate head one. 

After receiving a “Stop the Hate” grant from the state of California, the organization offers training on reducing bias.

“We’re doing a series of anti-racism trainings,” Parker said. … “These workshops, I feel are going to be really impactful because it’s going to challenge everybody in the community to look at not only the biases of others, but the biases that we have in ourselves that keep us from being able to work together, and to lift each other up.”

Jenesse’s core mission remains addressing domestic violence.

The organization offers support services and houses domestic violence survivors for up to two years at facilities in the South L.A. area. It also provides GED services and legal counseling.

“We are one of the only domestic violence intervention programs with an in-house legal department,” Parker said. “We actually have lawyers on staff that are able to represent clients who are having issues related to custody, which is a huge thing, because it’s almost impossible to get a lawyer to do family law pro bono, just because of everything that it takes.”

Alyson Messenger is one of those lawyers. Messenger serves as managing staff attorney at Jenesse Center and has said clients can use the law as a tool to prevent domestic violence.

“What we’ve learned is that many of the programs and services needed to escape domestic violence can also be preventative in nature,” Messenger said. 

Jenesse has a 24-hour hotline and partners with celebrities to spread the word about its educational opportunities.

“We really try to get the information out there,” Parker said. “We also have very high-profile ambassadors, our most famous and notable being Halle Berry, who’s worked with us for over 20 years.”

Still, Parker expressed concerns that the state government could potentially cut funding to nonprofits like Jenesse as it looks to close a nearly $46 billion budget shortfall.

“We will have to cut a lot of our programs and services,” Parker said about potential state cuts. 

She also warned that without some of the services Jenesse offers, more Angelenos could end up on the streets.

“As many people know, people are homeless because of domestic violence,” she said. “That’s really the number one reason that women find themselves in homelessness.”

For more information on Jenesse Center, you can visit their website at https://jenesse.org/.

This resource was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Libraryvia California Black Media as part of the Stop the Hate Program. The program is supported by partnership with California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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