Oxnard, Calif.—The Coalition for Family Harmony, which provides victims of family violence in Ventura County with the means to help escape from abuse, has seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in crisis calls to its hotline since the COVID-19 stay-at-home order took effect.
“Financial and emotional stresses are taking a toll. Victims are calling our hotline, fearful about staying in their home with an abuser but also worried about leaving and possibly being exposed to COVID-19,” says Dr. Caroline Prijatel-Sutton, Coalition For Family Harmony executive director. “They are in desperate situations.”
Domestic violence victims can call the Coalition’s bilingual hotline, 800-300-2181, where counselors are on call 24/7. Counselors ask questions about what callers are going through and the type of support system available to them. If a caller has a secure place to go, the counselor helps set up a plan on how to exit safely from the home. If not able to leave, the counselor offers suggestions on how to be safe while remaining in place and how to call the police if the need arises.
Here are some of the questions victims should ask themselves if they are planning to leave a domestic violence situation.
-Who are my people? Who do I trust? Who knows about this situation? Who has shown up for me in the past? Who has offered support? Share your safety plan with them.
-What do I need to bring? Medications; birth certificates (children’s too); bank and credit cards; items of sentimental value.
-Where can I hide my go-bag? Can I safely pack this bag? If I can, where can I hide it? Can I store it with a friend for safekeeping?
-When should I enact my plan to leave? Do I feel unsafe? Is my partner’s behavior/abuse escalating? Can I get out safely without fear of violence? Can I contact one of my trusted people for help?
-Where can I go? Talk to one of the Coalition’s advocates who will work with you to assess housing options, your needs and availability of shelter.
The Coalition is continuing to provide individual and group counseling sessions during the stay-at-home order. Individual counseling is now conducted by telephone or tele-counseling. Group sessions are operating using web-based and telephone applications. “It’s important for group members to still receive the support that these group meetings provide even though members aren’t meeting in person,” says Prijatel-Sutton.
Call 805-983-6014 for questions regarding services or visit www.TheCoalition.org.
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