1. Respect for the diversity of immigrant communities
2. Recognition that domestic violence within immigrant families occurs in the context of communities suffering from a legacy of multiple oppressions: poverty, discrimination, racism, and colonization
3. Commitment to work together as women and men, with the understanding that women remain the primary victims of domestic violence
4.Commitment to look for alternatives to the over-reliance on the criminal justice system
5. Commitment to develop partnerships with non-immigrant organizations and advocates
6. Recognition of the sacredness of all relations, recognition of families in their various structures, and an integration of culture and spirituality in our work.
License to Freedom is a founding member of CARI – the Coalition for Abused Refugee and Immigrant Women, in San Diego. CARI is a coalition of advocates who represent more then 10 different communities.
These advocates are members of refugee and immigrant communities and/or bilingual staff of various community agencies. Organizing on the local level was the first step in the struggle for equal access to services and resources for victims from underserved immigrant and refugee communities.
In addition to CARI, License to Freedom also works collaboratively with both private and government agencies to ensure that our clients have access to the services that they need without duplicating existing programs. Through our partnerships, we also build the cultural competency of the collaborating agencies.
San Diego is considered to be at the forefront of domestic violence response and resources in the nation, and is often presented as a model program. For English-speaking women and women from Latin America, this is certainly the case. Unfortunately for many women from the Middle East, Africa, the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, immigrants and refugees experience domestic violence at rates equal to or greater than the mainstream population. Communities without bilingual and bicultural services are communities essentially without any services. Members of our communities created License to Freedom in 2002 to respond to unmet needs of immigrant women.
The involvement of community members and respect for battered women’s voices shaped License to Freedom into one of the most unique and creative models of response to domestic violence in refugee and immigrant communities. We believe that services cannot be limited to crisis intervention alone. Lack of economic opportunities is one of the major barriers that battered refugee and immigrant women face when trying to leave violent partners and start new violence-free lives. It is also a major reason why battered refugee and immigrant women return to their violent partners. Therefore, services must include employment counseling, job placement, and driver’s license education.
License to Freedom received its tax-exempt status and became an independent non-profit organization in 2004.
Our Guiding Principles
License to Freedom is a non-profit community based organization that promotes nonviolence through community education, self-sufficiency and advocacy for refugee and immigrant survivors of domestic and relationship abuse in the East County and San Diego region.
We are a group of advocates that believe that every person has a right to live without fear. We believe that refugee and immigrant battered women and children should be able to seek and receive help and services that are respectful of our languages, cultures, race, age, sexual orientation, disabilities and religious beliefs.
© created by License to Freedom. All Rights Reserved 2011. 131 Avocado Ave. El Cajon, CA 92020. Email: Dilkhwaz@licensetofreedom.org.
Congratulations to the head director Dilkhwaz Ahmed for receiving a San Diego County Hall of Fame Bridge Builder's Award for her 15 years commitment to supporting refugee survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.