Woman leads organization helping domestic violence survivors


CHICAGO — Arshia Hasnain has been raised to give back to her community and she often volunteers.

But after stories of domestic violence began to surface within her community, she decided to form an organization reaching out and supporting survivors of domestic violence.

She is on a mission to break the cycle of domestic violence.

“You are always thinking to yourself, how can you help? How can you assist?” Hasnain said.

Growning up in Hong Kong, Hasnain has spent the least 20 years in social work and activism helping victims of domestic violence.

As a founding member of Empowering Women NFP, the non-profit volunteer-based organization provides resources for survivors, especially immigrant women who are often neglected by the system.

Her group gives immediate shelter and counseling services to those who need it now and for the long haul.

“A lot of women, I go back to the immigrant population, they don’t know what their rights are,” she said. “They don’t know the language and so we help them navigate their way through.”

Farah Chalisa is a volunteer attorney with empowering women. She says many don’t have a clear understanding of their legal rights in a domestic violence situation while here on visa.

“We provide them with immediate legal help, resources, where to turn to and just answer their questions, just make them feel comfortable and supported and let them know that there is help out there,” Chalisa said.

In just two and a half years, Hasnain said the organization has served an estimated 3,000 women, many have been referred through a partnership with the Chicago Police Department. This includes the 24th district in Rogers Park.

Hasnain’s team tied ribbons at the Rogers Park Station for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

But this is just one of the things they do to make their presence known in the community throughout the year. They also host food drives and a global 5k walk and fundraiser.

There is also job training, including a 12-week sewing course.

The organization continues to grow and she encourages everyone to do their part in breaking the cycle of violence.

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