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Frequently-Asked Questions


General Questions about our Philosophy & Purpose



What is The Ripple Effect? The Ripple Effect is a non-traditional agency which works toward the elimination of all forms of family violence: domestic violence, child maltreatment, elder abuse, teen dating violence, incest, rape/sexual assault, molestation, human trafficking, sibling violence, and parent abuse.


What is the philosophy of The Ripple Effect? The Ripple Effect uses a public health approach to address the epidemic of abuse. This means that we utilize prevention science to deal with relationship violence, just like any other pubic health issue or disease. Through research, advocacy and education, we analyze strategic points where we can best interrupt the social problem from a systems perspective, rather than just concentrating on one individual situation after another.


What makes The Ripple Effect different from other domestic violence agencies? The Ripple Effect is unique in that our primary focus is the PREVENTION of abuse. Most domestic violence agencies exist solely to provide intervention services after the fact: counseling, shelter, court accompaniment, and legal advocacy, for example. While these services are vital, we feel there is also a crucial need to stop relationship violence by proactively preventing abuse before it happens.


Does The Ripple Effect offer shelter services? No. This is another area where we are unique, in that most similar agencies are shelter-based. Because we focus on preventing abuse, most of the victims we work with would not qualify for services in a traditional shelter. However, we do have plans to offer short-term transitional housing on a very limited basis to our clients who are unable to access shelter from our community partners.


But doesn’t The Ripple Effect do many of the same things other abuse agencies do? Yes—and No. Through the Lazarus Project, our intervention program, The Ripple Effect does provide some of the same services as other local agencies (like those listed above). The primary population served through The Lazarus Project is Christian victims and survivors, a group that is largely underserved by secular agencies. However, our staff also provides consultation and training to pastors and churches on how to effectively deal with abuse when they have discovered it in their congregations. This reflects our commitment to ending the widespread problem of abuse through the entire community, not just the individual couple or family involved.



Questions about our Faith Focus / The Lazarus Project


Why does The Ripple Effect emphasize religious traditions and faith communities? Whenever a person is abused, if that person comes from a religious tradition, their faith will be affected as much as their body, mind, emotions, and relationships with others. In order to effectively address the problems these victims are facing, we must also provide an opportunity for them to talk about their faith, without judging them. We often underestimate the importance of faith as a social determinant of behavior. One’s religious convictions often cause people to act in ways that may seem contrary to others’ opinions. In addition, one’s faith tradition can be either a roadblock or a source of restoration in one’s journey toward healing from the experience of abuse.


Is The Ripple Effect a Christian organization? Yes, it is. And this affects our approach in all we do, in terms of working collaboratively and non-competitively; in honoring the value in each individual; in shining the light of God’s love in a very dark situation. What this does not mean, though, is this: we are not evangelistic in nature. We are neither predatory (forcing our faith on others), nor exploitive (using one’s crisis as a time to proselytize). It also does not mean that we judge others or attempt to convict them for their choices, failures, attitudes, or beliefs that may differ from our own.


And, because we provide a safe place for people to talk about their spiritual questions resulting from their abuse experiences, they often do. If they have questions about scriptures that have been twisted or doctrines that have been used to justify the abuse, we can talk about that, as well. Just as a bilingual worker can speak to people in two different languages, we can speak the language of scripture to those for whom it has great importance, because we are also conversant and knowledgeable in that specific area. We’re not just some off-the-wall group: The founder of the organization is a licensed minister.


Does that mean The Ripple Effect only serves Christians? Absolutely not. We do not discriminate in any way. We serve all persons without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, political beliefs, or gender.


How many clients do they serve? However, since 2001, the official launch of The Lazarus Project (the intervention program of The Ripple Effect), we have served over 125 clients. While the number itself may not be impressive, what is important to recognize is that these are unduplicated clients, many of whom we have served for a number of years. For example, one case that was referred to The Ripple Effect in April of 2001 was not resolved until February of 2007, due to prolonged litigation and ongoing issues resulting from the abuse. Yet some cases are resolved much more quickly. It depends upon the severity of each case.


What services do they provide? Through our intervention program, The Lazarus Project, we provide multiple direct victim services including: transportation, emergency cash & food assistance, case management, court accompaniment, legal advocacy, counseling, a helpline, and a support group. Additional services are planned for the not-too-distant future, including: emergency housing, employment training and assistance, tutoring, and a 24-hour hotline. Services are provided free of charge, without any expectation of repayment or of donations, monetary or otherwise.

In addition, because many Christian victims are married to abusers who are in leadership positions, their sense of isolation is even greater than those who are not in ministry. For this reason, we also offer e-mail counseling on an anonymous basis, so they need not fear their secret getting out in this very insular community.



General Questions about our Organizational Structure


Do they have a 501c3 non-profit status? Yes. We have obtained this non-profit designation through the Association of Evangelical Gospel Assemblies, an organization through which we have a charter under their group exemption status.


How is The Ripple Effect funded? We are completely dependent upon the generous donations and in-kind contributions of individuals and companies who believe in our work. We are not funded by any governmental entity.


How long has The Ripple Effect been around? The Ripple Effect was established in 1998. The Lazarus Project was added in 2001.


What impact has The Ripple Effect made locally? Because The Ripple Effect’s primary focus is the application of prevention science to the social problem of abuse, we provide innovative training and evaluation services that address the issue specifically. The Ripple Effect also produces user-friendly tools to educators, students, advocates, policy makers, and ministers to increase awareness about the issue. Since its founding in 1998, The Ripple Effect has presented cutting-edge prevention research and best practices presentations to over 14 state, national, and international conferences on public health, abuse, and trauma. The Ripple Effect's fact sheets, poetry booklets, and articles on abuse have been used throughout the county and are standard inclusions in student readers in local universities and in local domestic violence agencies’ training manuals.


The Ripple Effect has trained physicians, judges, politicians, teachers, social workers, psychologists, parent educators, ministers, and community leaders on various forms of abuse (domestic violence, elder abuse, child maltreatment, sexual assault/date rape, and teen dating violence), and has aided local businesses in developing and implementing workplace violence prevention policies and programs that address these issues. The Ripple Effect's information and materials have been distributed internationally, all free of charge.


Do they have a Board of Directors? Yes. The current Board of Directors consists of Christine Hagion Rzepka, Teresa Higginson, China Klein, Geri Watson, and Victor Rzepka.

In addition, we also have an expert Advisory Board, whose members include:

  • Pastor Chip Reynolds, Chief Administrator of GateWay City Church
  • Dr. Don Phillips, psychologist and author
  • Gary Avila, Director of Impact! School of Ministry


We also have a cadre of other experts whom we can call for expert advice; however, we have not secured their permission to release their names publicly.


Are they under the oversight of any other organization? Yes. The Ripple Effect is accountable to The Association of Evangelical Gospel Assemblies, which is headquartered in Louisiana. Locally, we are under the covering and oversight of Dr. David Cannistraci, senior pastor of GateWay City Church. In addition, the Founder/Director is a commissioner of the Domestic Violence Council of Santa Clara County, and is accountable to the County Board of Supervisors. The Founder/Director is also a member of the City's Family/Domestic Violence Advisory Board and is accountable to the mayor and City Council of the City of San Jose. Furthermore, the Founder/Director and the organization have received commendations from both the City and the County, as well as an award in 2002 from the Human Rights Commission for our passionate stance and proactive work to prevent domestic violence.


What’s their annual budget? Our annual operating costs exceed $15,000 currently (we are able to keep costs down to an all-volunteer staff). We work hard to steward our limited resources for maximum impact.


How can we obtain more information? Interested individuals can call the Founder/Director at (408) 225-2381, or you can visit us on the web at: On our website, you can view a partial listing of our accomplishments to date, fact sheets, and publications, as well as slideshows of the numerous presentations made to conferences all over the country.


“The Ripple Effect has raised my awareness of the problem of abuse in our world.”

—a community member
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“The Ripple Effect is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence. We believe that everyone deserves a life free from abuse.”


Copyright © 2008 The Ripple Effect

PO Box 36106 . San Jose, CA 95158

Telephone: (408) 225-2381 . Fax: (866) 696-3789