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Valley shelter for domestic violence victims expands outreach as calls for help soar

Posted at 7:08 AM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 13:54:55-04

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the community to shelter in place as much as possible, meaning less interaction with others, and fewer opportunities to tell them you are in need of help.

Domestic violence is now isolated inside homes and it means abusers have more control, compared to pre-pandemic.

"There are times within one's day that they have accessibility, whether it's going to work, whether it's the children being able to go to school and have mandated reporters that are able to pulse and kind of evaluate the child and how their life is," explained Myriah Mhoon.

Mhoon is the CEO of the New Life Center in the West Valley. She has held that position for more than two years.

She said the beds there prior to the pandemic were always at capacity.

"I think that it's telling that we do have beds open," Mhoon said. "That means that people can't physically sometimes get to us."

According to the Phoenix Police Department, there was a 140% increase in domestic violence-related deaths, comparing the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020.

The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence tells ABC15 calls to their helpline are now up by 60% for April, May, and June. Many callers are looking for information on getting an Order of Protection.

Mhoon said the organization had to be innovative to ensure they were letting people know that they were still open to help.

"We just became a 24-hour response agency to serving victims of domestic violence and sexual violence," Mhoon said.

New Life Center has now launched a mobile team that people can call or text at any time. A staff member will be sent out to a safe location to provide assistance.

They have also started a partnership with the Goodyear Police Department which is now creating a specialized protocol for their response to domestic violence victims.

A statement provided to ABC15 by Goodyear Police Department Chief Santiago Rodriguez says:

"As the Chief of the Goodyear Police Department, I am committed to working alongside the New Life Shelter to ensure the safety and rights of victims who use the services of NLC. The Goodyear Police Department enjoys a good working relationship with NLC and I appreciate the open communication and dialogue with Director, Myriah Mhoon. The Goodyear Police Department dispatchers work closely with the center’s counselors to relay important information to our officers who may be called to the center; this is important, as it is our top priority to preserve the victims’ rights and keep them safe. I look forward to our continued joint efforts to serve the community and the clients of NLC."

"We know that victims of domestic violence are going to possibly work with law enforcement... maybe working with prosecution, maybe working with medical," Mhoon listed off. "The Goodyear police department has been one of my champions since I started and so it was our idea to finally solidify our true collaboration and making sure we are responding in a victim-centered trauma-informed response."

Mhoon said, even if you do not want to come and stay at the shelter, they can help in other ways. One example is creating a personalized safety plan to leave an abuser.

"It is not as easy as one would suggest to just to leave and we want to also bring down the possibility of fatality when that person is leaving because that is a high point of crisis and danger," Mhoon said.

To contact the New Life Center, you can call 623-932-4404 or text them at 623-332-7280.

To visit their website, click here.