CCAR stands for Connecticut Coalition Against Relationship and Sexual Violence in Connecticut. It is a statewide nonprofit organization that works to end domestic and sexual violence and ensure that survivors have access to quality, compassionate services. CCAR was founded in 1978 and has grown to include 13 member organizations that provide core services like emergency shelter, counseling, and legal advocacy across Connecticut.
CCAR’s Mission and Programs
CCAR’s mission is to create safer communities and support survivors through coordinated and comprehensive services, education, and advocacy. Some of CCAR’s key programs and services include:
- Statewide information, referral, and crisis intervention hotline
- Training and education for professionals and the general public on domestic and sexual violence issues
- Public policy and legislative advocacy at the state level
- Support groups and counseling referrals for survivors
- Prevention programs and healthy relationship education for youth
CCAR acts as an umbrella organization that helps connect and strengthen Connecticut’s network of domestic and sexual violence service providers. It promotes best practices and coordination across organizations so that survivors can more easily access the supports they need.
History and Origins
CCAR was founded in 1978 originally as the Connecticut Task Force on Abused Women. It grew out of the early battered women’s movement in the 1970s when activists brought attention to domestic violence as a systemic social issue and established the first hotlines, shelters, and support services for survivors.
Some key milestones in CCAR’s history include:
- In 1981, opening the state’s first toll-free bilingual sexual assault crisis hotline.
- In 1984, establishing the first domestic violence offender education program in Connecticut.
- In 1992, launching an annual conference on domestic and sexual violence that continues today.
- In 2010, merging with the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services to expand services and supports for sexual violence survivors.
Over 40 years, CCAR has grown from a volunteer-driven task force into a leading statewide coalition that champions survivor-centered policy, prevention, and care.
Membership and Organizational Structure
CCAR has 13 local domestic and sexual violence agency members located throughout Connecticut. They are:
- The Center for Family Justice (Bridgeport)
- The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education (Stamford)
- The Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence (statewide)
- Dometic Violence Crisis Center (Stamford)
- Interval House (Hartford)
- The Network (Enfield)
- New Horizons (Middletown)
- Prudence Crandall Center (New Britain)
- Rape Crisis Center of Milford
- Rape Crisis Services of Southern Connecticut (New Haven)
- Safe Futures (New London)
- Susan B. Anthony Project (Torrington)
- Women’s Center of Greater Danbury
These organizations offer direct services to survivors in their communities and regions. CCAR supports and unites them under one coalition to enhance coordination statewide.
CCAR is governed by a Board of Directors made up of representatives from each member organization. The Board sets the strategic direction and oversees CCAR’s programs, finances, and policies. CCAR also has an Executive Director who leads a small staff team that handles programs, training, public awareness, and administrative functions.
Services for Survivors
While CCAR itself does not provide direct services, the agency coordinates and promotes the services offered by its member organizations across Connecticut. These services include:
- 24/7 crisis hotlines
- Emergency shelter and transitional housing
- Support groups and individual counseling
- Legal, medical, and financial advocacy
- Safety planning and case management
- Children’s programs
- Court and criminal justice system accompaniment
Survivors can contact CCAR at any time to be connected with resources and service providers in their area. This statewide referral network ensures survivors get routed to the supports they need, when they need them.
One direct service CCAR provides statewide is their confidential hotline. By calling 1-888-999-5545, survivors can access:
- 24/7 crisis intervention
- Information on services across Connecticut
- Referrals to local providers
- Safety planning
- Options counseling
Bilingual advocates are available to provide immediate support and connect callers with resources in their community for ongoing help.
Education and Training Programs
CCAR provides training and education programs for professionals, community groups, and the general public to build awareness on domestic and sexual violence. These include:
- In-person and online training for police, healthcare providers, educators, and other professionals who interact with survivors.
- Prevention programs for middle school and high school students on healthy relationships, consent, and bystander intervention.
- Community seminars and webinars to raise awareness on domestic and sexual violence issues.
- Media campaigns and materials to promote public education.
In 2021, CCAR provided training to over 9,000 professionals and community members across Connecticut. Education is a critical part of their efforts to prevent violence and change societal attitudes.
CCAR coordinates the state’s network of certified Offender Education Programs. These programs aim to educate domestic violence offenders and promote accountability. Certified educators provide group sessions that teach non-violent behavior and challenge belief systems that sustain abuse. Courts mandate program attendance as part of offender rehabilitation.
Public Policy and Advocacy
CCAR advocates for legislative policies and reforms to improve statewide response to domestic and sexual violence. Some advocacy priorities include:
- Increasing funding for victim services.
- Enhancing legal protections for survivors.
- Expanding access to shelters and affordable housing.
- Promoting sustainable funding sources for prevention.
- Improving law enforcement training and protocols.
CCAR monitors legislation, provides expert testimony to policymakers, and mobilizes advocates to support or oppose bills based on their impact on survivors. The organization has successfully lobbied for important laws including domestic violence leave for employees, affirmative consent education in schools, and more.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, CCAR relies on a mix of public and private funding sources:
- Government grants at the state and federal level such as from the Victims of Crime Act.
- Foundation grants from entities focused on domestic and sexual violence issues.
- Corporate and individual donations from the community.
- Fundraising events like CCAR’s annual conference and prevention walk.
Like many nonprofits, funding presents an ongoing challenge. CCAR advocates for improved public investments in domestic and sexual violence prevention and victim services. The need consistently outpaces the resources available. CCAR works hard to steward its funding sources ethically and maximize impact for Connecticut communities.
Over 40 years, CCAR has built an influential statewide coalition advancing survivor supports, prevention, and policy reform in Connecticut. Looking ahead, priorities include:
- Expanding prevention education for youth to promote healthy relationships and intervene early.
- Improving responses and support for marginalized survivor populations including immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities.
- Increasing economic empowerment supports to help survivors gain financial independence.
- Building more affordable transitional housing options across Connecticut communities.
- Advancing racially equitable and trauma-informed law enforcement policies and practices.
While progress has been made, domestic and sexual violence remain pressing public health concerns. CCAR continues working towards the vision of safe, equitable communities for all.
For over 40 years, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (CCAR) has provided vital leadership in the statewide movement to end gender-based violence. As a coalition representing 13 local service providers, CCAR coordinates survivor supports, prevention education, and policy advocacy across Connecticut. The organization operates a 24/7 hotline, trains thousands of professionals annually, and champions legislative reforms that enhance safety and justice for survivors. Domestic and sexual violence affect individuals and communities across income, race, age, and other demographics. By uniting a strong coalition of local providers under one umbrella, CCAR enhances the accessibility and visibility of life-saving services. The coalition model creates a unified voice to advocate for survivors’ needs in the halls of power. There is still work to be done to prevent violence and walk with survivors on their healing journeys. CCAR remains committed to this mission and vision of safe, just, and equitable communities for all.