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Arizona Nonprofit Helps Abused Women

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For some women, it is shelter. For other women, it is a support network. But, the National Advocacy & Training Network (NATN) is for everyone, a place to start over.

NATN, through grassroots efforts, began in Arizona as a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency in January of 2002. Started by MonaLou Callery, a former victim of domestic violence, and comprised of an international network of survivors, volunteers and professionals, NATN is dedicated to preventing domestic violence and abuse, and helping those affected by such abuse rebuild their lives. As they say, per their mission statement, the goal of NATN "is to address the health, safety, economic and social justice issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and substance abuse through education, public awareness, and direct services." And they do so quite flawlessly. As their founder, MonaLou Callery says, "When talking about battered women, everyone usually assumes they are in control of their own fate and there isn't a whole lot of accountability for batterers. But battered women don't stay; it's a myth. We are just trying to help them put their life back together and get back on the right path."

As someone who has faced the issue of domestic abuse herself, Callery knows first-hand how hard it can be to get back on solid ground:

"My biggest fear was my kids would be taken away and often times I'd just leave with them in the middle of the night and park my car somewhere and we would sleep there. While there are battered women shelters, most only offer a 90 day period of help and who can really put their life back together in 90 days after going through a traumatic experience like that?"

As a result, NATN takes a different approach: helping victims become functional in a stable environment while receiving on the job training and experience.

In order to achieve their mission, NATN maintains three main projects: Training and Technical Assistance; Support, Education, Empowerment, and Directions (SEEDs); and Cup O' Karma: Community Café for Cause.

Through their first project, NATN offers specialized seminars and consultation services which are provided through NATN's Local and international Network involved in Voices, a project for women who have been affected by domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Some of the areas covered in this training include: Advocacy for Battered Women in Prison, Domestic Violence Courts, Mentor training, Workplace Violence, as well as others.

NATN's second project, SEEDs was established in January of 2003 to help provide for sexually abused women. The program is community-based, located in Mesa, Chandler, and Phoenix and provides these women with a bridge from residential/institutional programs to independent living. Residents learn to share, complete chores, and help support each other through house meetings in a safe and sober environment. Through this project, women are able to physically, mentally, and emotionally heal from the trauma they have experienced. "Women find out about us through word of mouth because we don't take the band-aid approach that approach just doesn't work in a society like this. Most of our clients are former prostitutes and drug abusers and when they come see us, they need serious counseling and support to essentially start over," says Callery. All proceeds generated through Cup O' Karma are used to advance the mission of NATN.

Lastly, the Cup O'Karma community café provides on the spot job-training for women participating in the SEEDS programs. The shop was donated by Luis Prado, honored by the Bank of America as a local hero, and all of the proceeds after expenses are given back to help victims of domestic abuse. The coffee shop is located in Mesa and operates Monday and Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m." It's not just a coffee shop, it's a safe haven for these women," Callery says.

While Callery knows her work is far from over, she is the first to admit that NATN has come a long way:

"It's really hard to keep going sometimes because you see all these women coming and you eventually think, when will this problem go away? But if we gave up, we not only give up on these women but on their children as well who don't deserve a life like this. All these kids want is their mom."

By Clarissa Burt with Shannon Murray

For more information about donating or volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.natn-az.com.