ABC 7's Dan Ashley joins Rebuilding Lives Luncheon event chair, Margot Stanford in discussing this years' theme.

We are thrilled that Dan Ashley, ABC7 New Anchor, was able to join us for the 27th Annual Rebuilding Lives Luncheon. Dan spent a few minutes talking with Event Chair, Margot Stanford, abut this years’ theme connecting the root cause of many mass shootings and violence in our communities to the domestic and family violence experienced inside the home.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TDVAM), a month where youth and adult allies around the country raise awareness about and honor those who have been impacted by TDV. Each February, our Youth Against Violence (YAV) Leaders celebrate this month by creating unique and informative awareness campaigns for their peers throughout Contra Costa County. This year, our YAV leaders created a campaign encouraging their peers to choose happiness over relationship history.

Our YAV leaders defined the phrase Happiness over Relationship History as, “choosing your own happiness and self-love over your history with another person or over a long-term relationship that has become toxic, unhealthy or just a habit.” On Orange Day, the national day of teen dating violence awareness, YAV brought this message to five high schools around the county – asking their peers, “why do you choose happiness over relationship history?”

“It was cool to see everybody really thinking why it was important to their own happiness over a bad relationship”, said one YAV leader, “a lot of them really identified with the idea once we explained it, they were excited to write their ideas down.”

Later that week on Valentine’s Day, returned to their peers to celebrate healthy relationships. They handed out healthy relationship Valentine’s goodie bags, filled with candy, free TDVAM wristbands, and a valentine with a healthy relationship message. They went on to ask their peers, “if love shouldn’t hurt, what should it be…”

Overall, this TDVAM our YAV leaders spread awareness about teen dating violence and encouraged their fellow students to prioritize their own happiness and self-care over any amount of time spent in a relationship.  By promoting this message of self-love and independence, YAV is helping to shift relationship norms among their peers and work towards preventing future dating violence from happening in the first place.

For more on the campaign, please take a look at our brief video recap of this year’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month campaign.

32nd Annual Youth Against Violence Summer Program

Summer is rapidly drawing to a close- but before it does, here's a quick look back at our Youth Against Violence Summer program and the amazing youth who are making a change in their own lives and their school communities.

Over the Summer, youth from across Contra Costa County participated in our 32nd YAV Summer program.  The YAV team learned about the roots of interpersonal and dating violence and ways in which they can interrupt the systemic and interpersonal cycles of violence and become leaders in their schools and communities. 

Highlights from this year's YAV program include visiting Domestic Violence shelters the Bay Area Region, touring The Women's Building in San Francisco, and spending a day at the State Capital meeting with our CPEDV partners and learning about the legislation that impacts our work and the field. 

One of the YAV leader's favorite activities was spending a day at STAND!'s emergency shelter and transitional housing complex, where the youth spent time decorating cookies and making dog treats for the families who are receiving services. 

After a packed Summer full of learning, deep discourse, and educational field trips, the YAV leaders celebrated their hard work with a fun-filled day at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom before school resumes. 


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

February is the official month for Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This year STAND! for Families Free of Violence’s youth leaders, Youth Against Violence, are trying to spread awareness about teen dating violence at their schools. We hope that by learning more and speaking out about TDV we can eventually reverse the cycle of violence that leads 1 in 3 teenagers to experiencing TDV each year.  Check back for updates about the YAS leaders activities and events all month long.  Or follow along on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.  Let’s #STANDAgainstTDV! and #StoptheCycle! #TDVAPM


Valentine's Day at STAND!

Rather than only celebrating love on February 14th, STAND chooses to help create strong and healthy family relationships all year long. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and many people may not know that 1 out of every 3 teens experience dating violence, a number even higher than adult domestic violence. Last year STAND served over 2,400 youth in our school based services alone. One of our most successful services are classroom workshops- these school-based workshops link teens to our support groups, emergency services, and counseling.

We are thankful for those in the community who generously donate to our clients on special holidays like Valentine's Day. This year BART Police Department donated affirmation cards, flowers, and other treats to the women in our shelter as well as our other programs in Richmond. 

Creating Hope During The Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time that brings joy as we gather and celebrate with our loved ones. At STAND we aim to create this environment for our clients through our holiday program. Thanks to our generous donors in the community we had a very successful holiday program this year. We were able to have 14 of our families “adopted” and they received specific items on their Christmas wish lists. Through cash donations we also were able to support more than 50 families by giving them gift cards to freely purchase what they needed.

Many of our programs from First 5, Kinship, and our emergency shelter coordinated holiday parties. Our Kinship program had a joyful party where the children were able to decorate sugar cookies, visit with Santa, and open gifts. (see photos below)


STAND has many different programs throughout the county and we want to ensure all of our clients feel supported and cared for not only during the holidays but all year long!

Get involved in your community and volunteer with STAND!

STAND provides 3 tiers of training for those interested in volunteering. These training workshops allow volunteers to become more knowledgeable about Domestic Violence and Family Violence. You will learn communication tools, understand the impact that violence has on families, how to become a STAND ambassador in the community and much more. When you attend more training workshops it opens more doors for volunteering and opportunities to get further involved with STAND!

The training tier options include:

  •  Tier 1: Foundations of Family Violence and STAND! (10 hours)
  •   Tier 2: Community Ambassadors (10 hours)
  •    Tier 3: Peer Counselors (28 hours) See photos below for one of our training sessions!

In order to sign up for the training or if you have any questions, please email More information and our training schedule can be found here.

Press Release: "Contra Costa County: Promising program fights deadly domestic violence"

Contra Costa County now has funding for the lethality assesment program which aims to prevent domestic violence related deaths.

“We are seeing about 100 clients per month over and above our normal caseload,” said Gloria Sandoval, chief executive officer of STAND!.

“We thought in the beginning that we would see clients that we had seen previously, but these are actually new folks that have not been in services at all, which is what we are finding nationally. The folks in the most dangerous situations don’t seek services."

Check out the full story here.

Press Release - "Contra Costa: ‘Rebuilding Lives’ in wake of domestic abuse'"

One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. This statistic is both shocking and saddening. STAND's 24th Annual Rebuilding Lives Luncheon is a time raise awareness about domestic violence and to make strides to lower this statistic in our communities.

In a recent press release by the East Bay Times, Lou Fancher acknowledges the power and presence that STAND has in Contra Costa County when it comes to creating safer communities and stronger families. This year's Rebuilding Lives Luncehon was especially powerful thanks to our guest speakers, attendees, and staff.

Read the complete story HERE.

Honoring Ellen's Guild

On any given day you can find at least one member of Ellen’s Guild somewhere around STAND! They are a mighty force of passion and efficiency – making sure that STAND! staff and clients have everything we need. As with most dedicated behind-the-scenes efforts, the endless things accomplished by Ellen’s Guild are not always noticed, because they contribute to the very fabric that makes STAND! strong – from organizing donations to liaising with local businesses to tackling administrative projects.

Ellen’s Guild was founded in 1979 by Betty Broll, an ardent supporter of children’s services. In 1996 the Guild officially adopted the name Ellen’s Guild as tribute to the late Ellen Toby Fisher, who enthusiastically resurrected the Guild. In 2010 when Family Stress Center merged with STAND!, Ellen’s Guild did too. Guild members meet as a group on a monthly basis in order to discuss goals and divvy up responsibilities. In between meetings they can be found:

  • picking up and delivering weekly food donations to RMC so that residents have nutritious meals,
  • deep cleaning garages, closets, kitchens and living rooms in order to provide a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment for clients and their children,
  • helping set up our transitional housing with furniture and household items for new families,
  •  soliciting and collecting donations of furniture, gifts, clothing and more to ensure that the supportive essentials we provide our clients and families offer a sense of dignity and pride,
  • shredding, filing, and organizing administrative projects to help staff tackle office projects,
  • organizing, planning, and tackling logistics for special events and holiday parties, like the Kinship Christmas party, that benefit children and families of STAND! and allow an opportunity for celebrating their relationships.

This year at STAND's 24th Annual Rebuilding Lives Luncheon, Ellen's Guild received the Rollie Mullen Award for their outstanding contributions and efforts to support STAND.

The 24th Annual Rebuilding Lives Luncheon

As we begin to transition from summer to fall, we look forward to many things; Changing leaves, cooler weather, and Halloween. However, fall holds another very important time in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For the past 23 years, STAND has held an event to observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month, raise funds, and encourage the community to get involved. This event is the 24th Annual Rebuilding Lives Luncheon on Thursday, October 6 and we invite you to join us and the Contra Costa community to benefit STAND! For Families Free of Violence. This event inspires action to end family violence and celebrates the strength and optimism of domestic violence survivors and their children.

For more than 20 years, advocates, community and business leaders, law enforcement, survivors, and concerned community members have gathered together at the Rebuilding Lives Luncheon in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The luncheon was started originally as a fundraiser for the maintenance of the original transitional housing facility (now closed), and has since grown to be our major fundraising event for the agency. In that time, our knowledge of domestic and family violence has increased and deepened and we have included more voices of men, children, and youth in the luncheon’s program, recognizing the impact that violence in the home has on everyone in the family.

This year’s the Luncheon in Concord will feature a keynote address by Tony Porter, CEO and co-founder of A Call to Men, and an internationally recognized advocate for his efforts to prevent violence against women while promoting a healthy, respectful manhood. For more information about the 24th Annual Rebuilding Lives Luncheon or to purchase tickets—including tables of 10 and corporate sponsorships—please visit STAND!’s website.

STAND!ING Ovation: Sandee Oliver

“I can do that! And, I have an idea for something else I can do, too!” This is a phrase that exemplifies the approach and attitude of this month’s STAND!ing Ovation volunteer, Sandee Oliver. Sandee frequently jumps in to help and then adds her own creativity, passion and dedication to go above and beyond what is needed.

For over four years, Sandee has helped out at our fundraising events, promoted STAND! to her friends, family, and coworkers, and has been a consistent and exuberant presence at community events Speaker’s Bureau volunteer. “Her face really lights up when we’re talking about tabling at community events,” Gretchen Ellis, Volunteer Coordinator, said.” Sandee loves to be face-to-face with people, talking about STAND! to those that need our services, and recruiting more folks to join us as partners and volunteers.” In the past year, Sandee has engaged with well over 200 individuals, providing families with our crisis line cards and program brochures at events like the Convoy of Hope in Concord, National Night Out in Pleasant Hill, and New Horizons Block Party in Rodeo.

Sandee, thank you for your commitment to ending the cycle of family violence in our community, and for being a tireless amplifier of our mission no matter where you go! 

Sandee Oliver, Front row Center

Sandee Oliver, Front row Center

Sandee Oliver, Left

Sandee Oliver, Left

Q&A with Tony Porter, Co-Founder of A CALL TO MEN

STAND! is proud to announce that this year’s Rebuilding Lives Luncheon keynote address will be given by Tony Porter. Tony is an author, educator and activist working to advance social justice issues. As the co-founder of A CALL TO MEN, Tony is internationally recognized for his efforts to prevent violence against women while promoting a healthy, respectful manhood. He is a leading voice on male socialization, the intersection of masculinity and violence against women and healthy, respectful manhood. Tony’s 2010 TED Talk has been named by GQ Magazine as one of the “Top 10 TED Talks Every Man Should See.”

Tony is an advisor to the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, where he provides policy consultation, works extensively with player engagement and facilitates violence prevention and healthy manhood training. He is an international lecturer for the U.S. State Department and has been a guest presenter to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Tony has also worked with the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.

As a preview of his keynote address, Tony spoke to STAND! about what he calls the Man Box, a social construct, and healthy masculinity and its role in ending gender-based violence.

You’ve traveled all over the world to talk about healthy masculinity and preventing violence against women. What has the reaction been like across different communities?

In all my travels, I’m usually brought in by leaders in the community so the message and work of A CALL TO MEN is typically valued.  But no matter where I am in the world or who is in the room – I find that if men are given the space to have conversations about healthy, respectful manhood, they start to think more deeply and critically about what manhood means to them.  A CALL TO MEN makes a point not to indict but invite men to be part of a conversation that allows them to think – often for the very first time – about what they’ve been taught about being a man, how that has affected their views of women and girls – and how that differs from the healthy, respectful manhood that we promote. 

For those of us who have young men and boys at home, what can we do to 1) empower them to step outside the Man Box and 2) prepare them for the push back they may get from their male peers?

We talk to young men and boys about the principles of healthy, respectful manhood, offering some concrete ways to think about their actions. 

The Principles of Healthy, Respectful Manhood

1.      Embrace and express a full range of emotion.

2.      Do not conform to the pressure to always be fearless and in control.  

3.      Value a woman’s life, treat all people equally and promote the betterment of humanity.

4.      Do not use language that denigrates women and girls.

5.      Develop an interest in the experience of women and girls, outside of sexual conquest.

6.      Model a healthy, respectful manhood to other men and boys. 

We also want young men and boys to understand that men who reject rigid notions of masculinity and embrace a healthy, respectful manhood will prevent violence against women, sexual assault, sexual harassment, bullying and many other social ills.  These men make a positive contribution to their families, their communities and humanity at large.  But even more than the benefit it brings to others, there is a direct health benefit to them.  Research by the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who suppress their emotions are one-third more likely to die prematurely than people who regularly express what they are feeling.  Issues of rage, anxiety, depression and unhealthy coping mechanisms can manifest.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate is four times higher in men than in women. 

An unfortunate consequence of the Man Box is that, even when talking about issues that primarily affect women, men’s voices tend to carry more authority. What are your thoughts on this? What can men do to help women be heard?

Violence against women has primarily been a women’s issue because women have been at the forefront, leading the way.  But because the majority of violence against women is men’s violence, men have the potential to speak to other men in a way that holds them accountable, while offering hope and healing. 

A CALL TO MEN recognizes that the underlying causes of violence and discrimination against women are rooted in the ways women and girls have been traditionally viewed and treated in our society.  In the Man Box, men are taught to be dominating, so women must be submissive.  Men are strong, so therefore women are vulnerable and weak.  Men are superior, so women are inferior.   Men are in charge, which means women are not. 

Changing what we men teach other men and boys about women and girls is the key to ending the violence and discrimination that not only hurts women, but prevents men from being their authentic selves. 

Internalized misogyny: Is it possible that women are in the Man Box as well?

We at A CALL TO MEN don’t see women in the Man Box.  With any form of group oppression, members of that group may support maintaining the status quo in their quest for safety and value.  This may look like women are in the Man Box, but most often, it’s simply a woman’s attempt to survive in a male dominating society.  At the end of the day, the benefactors of that construct are still men.

What do you mean when you say “my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman?”

Sexism and inequality not only hurt women, but imprison men.  We are held hostage to the norms of the Man Box and it has a profound impact on men’s health and emotional wellbeing. When boys are told not to cry or feel [emotion], there are long-term lasting negative effects on their health and relationships. 

In defining manhood, men are taught to distance themselves from the experiences of women and girls – to develop a lack of interest.  This starts in the toddler years when boys are told things like, “you don’t want to play with dolls, those are for girls.”  Around age 16, the culture of manhood gives boys permission to be interested in the experience of girls in one primary area – sexual conquest. This is continually reinforced by society. Everywhere boys look they see women and girls objectified and portrayed in ways they can be “consumed” by men.   Boys who have interest in the experience of girls outside of sexual conquest are far too often punished for operating outside of the Man Box.  They are called derogatory and homophobic names which further devalues women and girls.  Men who are abusive exploit this reality.  While well-meaning men may not hurt or degrade women, they have been conditioned to not intervene, to not interfere in the business of another man on behalf of a woman. 

If men are freed from the norms of the Man Box, women are freed from a male dominating society.


To hear Tony Porter present his keynote address at the 24th Annual Rebuilding Lives Luncheon on October 6, 2016, please register here

Donor Spotlight: Barbara Bentley

Barbara Bentley’s mantra is simple: passion, planning, patience and persistence. She has used these four “tools” during several key moments in her life, including the time that she survived a murder attempt by her ex-husband in 1991. She used them again as she fought to change California’s no-fault divorce law, which forced her to pay her ex-husband alimony, give up half her retirement and pay insurance for the man who had tried to kill her. Barbara sponsored Assembly Bill 16, which passed in 1995 and ensured that no other victim of domestic violence would be financially re-victimized as she had. 

“When I started with the idea of changing the law, I knew it wouldn't help me,” Barbara shared. “It would not be retroactive. But I wanted to right a wrong in the legal system. So I started writing letters [to lawmakers]. […] I ended up being the sponsor of the bill (I didn't know what a sponsor was). Even when I would call on the assemblymen’s offices or the senator's offices, the secretary would say ‘who’s the sponsor?’ and I’d say, ‘I am. Me. One person. I’m sponsoring it.’”

Later, when she decided to write a book, A Dance with the Devil, about her marriage to and divorce from a psychopath, Barbara found herself embracing her four tools more than ever. 

“I had to learn to write,” she told STAND! “First, I became involved in some writing organizations. I joined the International Women’s Writing Guild and attended their summer conference. Five days later, the lady that founded it came to me and asked if I wanted to speak. I hadn't written anything, but she asked me to talk about my story. That night, doing what I did, I found that I had a voice. And I found that what I shared with other women was helping people in that audience — passion, planning, patience and persistence! While writing the book, I discovered that those were the tools I had used. I had never sat back and analyzed my life in that respect.” 

Today, with her own experience of domestic violence and family court long behind her, Barbara continues to support survivors in a variety of ways. She manages the website — — where she provides resources for survivors of domestic abuse. Barbara also shares tips online with those who want to right a wrong in the legal system by changing a law or writing a book, like she did. At STAND!, she has been a dedicated volunteer for over 15 years, first on the Crisis Line and then with our Speakers’ Bureau, through which she has shared her story to raise awareness of the different forms of domestic violence.

“For many years I was going out representing STAND, talking about my story or talking about domestic violence,” Barbara remembers. “That was really interesting, to go out to a lot of different venues and be able to share what domestic violence can look like beyond the traditional image of being socked in the face every day. Until the murder attempt, there really wasn't [physical abuse] in my relationship. And, you really couldn’t even recognize the financial abuse, the way it was done.” 

In addition to her volunteer work, Barbara and her husband, Rex, have donated generously to STAND! for over 20 years and have recently become founding members of the Friends of STAND! Giving Society. With her success in literature, love, life and law, Barbara makes surviving and thriving look easy.  However, it all comes back to her mantra: passion, planning, patience and persistence.

It took about 2 years for recovery,” Barbara explains. “Recovery is not instantaneous. I get many emails from women on my webpage who have read the book or seen the story on Dateline. They say, ‘Please help me,’ and they tell me their situation. One of the first things I tell them is that I wish I had the magic wand, but it’s going to take a lot of work. It takes a lot of work for the victim to understand themselves and move forward while still trying to wrangle with the abuser, either in family court or criminal court.” 

Barbara’s engagement with STAND! to end all forms of family violence —as donor, volunteer and author—has helped countless domestic violence survivors begin their own process of recovery. Her experience is a shining example of the power of one’s own voice, both as a tool for amplifying an important message and as a reminder to listen to your instincts.

“In any kind of abuse, if you're beginning to feel uneasy in your relationship—if that little voice is saying ‘this isn't quite right’—you need to reach out and talk to somebody,” she says. “Sometimes, if you talk to a friend or your family, the abuser may be so charming that you're not going to get the type of feedback that you need. A lot of times, as I said on Dateline, they'll go, ‘Well, we always thought he was the nicest person!’ And yet, he ends up being this killer, abuser, whatever. So calling an organization like STAND! is a good place to start to get information. You may not even realize what kind of abuse you're experiencing and, if it’s not anything that fits in within a STAND! program, then there are resources that they can recommend.” 


Integrating Services to Serve All Survivors

Ang had counted 30 incidences of abuse before he reported his wife to the police last year. As an undocumented immigrant from Cambodia, he feared what might happen to him if the police showed up at his home. As a father, he questioned whether his decision to report the mother of his two children would result in them being taken away from him. As an Asian man, he felt immense shame for having been abused by a woman; he worried what his community would say about him and the fact that he had gotten the police involved in his family life.

These worries weighed heavily on Ang’s shoulders, trapping him in his marriage even as his wife punched and kicked him, bruised his eyes, dislocated his finger, repeatedly wrapped her hands around his neck and humiliated him in public in front of a room full of his friends and family. The abuse worsened and, finally, Ang decided that the only way to end the violence was by calling the police.

When the police officer arrived, he screened Ang using the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP)’s tool to determine a victim’s risk of domestic violence homicide. Because of his visible injuries and the several instances of attempted strangulation, Ang was identified as a high-risk victim and was immediately referred to STAND!

At STAND!, Ang met with a Cambodian-speaking Domestic Violence Liaison and received the support he needed to create a safety plan, file a restraining order, receive therapy and file for divorce. Where Ang’s story differs from that of a female STAND! client, however, is that he was not screened for the Emergency Shelter. STAND!’s Residential Housing Program has historically been reserved for female clients or transgender clients who identify as female. In the past, STAND!’s Emergency Shelter would have been off limits to Ang and male victims like him, but thanks to revisions to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), federally-funded domestic violence shelters are now obliged to serve all survivors, regardless of gender identity.

VAWA was signed into law in 1994 with the support of then-Senator Joe Biden. Since that time, the act has undergone several re-authorizations and changes in language.  Recently, a Nondiscrimination Grant Condition was added to VAWA, which broadened the scope of domestic violence services to include victims of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Effectively, this expanded VAWA’s protections to previously unserved victims, including LGBTQ, male-identified or gender non-conforming domestic violence survivors. 

On July 1, 2016, STAND! rolled out the Non Discrimination Policy through fully-integrated services across our entire organization. Sexual orientation or gender identity will no longer be a determinant for whether a victim (or their children) is eligible to receive certain services.

“Domestic violence crosses all lines, and all survivors are deserving of support,” says Director of Client Services, Reina Sandoval-Beverly. “Our mission is to provide emergency services and help regardless of gender.”

STAND! staff have spent the months leading up to the debut of gender-neutral services attending trainings on the non-discrimination policy, cultural competency and humility. Local organizations like Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA) in San Mateo and the Rainbow Community Center (RCC) in Concord—where gender-neutral domestic violence services have already been established—have shared best-practices and trainings.

Formerly, our residential programs primarily served women but have been expanded to serve any client who desires to participate.

STAND! CEO Gloria Sandoval explains, “While we have provided support to any client who has asked for our help in other programs for many years, we are proud to be opening our doors to support groups and residential services as well.”

All shelter clients are welcome to attend morning meetings and, if they have children, they can access the Children’s Services program. As always, STAND! services will remain voluntary and clients who are uncomfortable with the integration policy may choose to opt-out of any program. The goal of the non-discriminatory policy is to create a safe space for all survivors to receive the help they need to live happier and safer lives free of violence.

“STAND! has always been clear that our mission is to serve all members of families affected by family violence,” says Gloria. “Expanding these services is just another step forward in that direction.”

Special thanks to the Rainbow Community Center for their assistance with this article.