Going to a shelter in the middle of a pandemic can be a scary thought for victims of domestic violence and their children. But for many, a shelter has been the only option to escape from the abuser.
“It seems impossible to get out of it, you feel all doors are closed,” said “Rosita," a domestic violence survivor.
Rosita says she’s lucky to have found shelter with a relative because many shelters are limiting their capacity due to COVID-19.
“He threatened to kill me to keep me from leaving him, so, I left with my four children.”
Rosita says it terrifies her just to think she could have been homeless with her children, but a new effort is underway to place families like Rosita’s in hotel rooms and keep them safe.
“As the calls are coming in, we’re assessing the situation; we try to place them in shelter if it’s a highly valid case. If none of the shelters have any space open then we move on to the overflow program which is the hotels,” stated Cynthia Rodriguez, the Director of the Domestic Violence program at A New Leaf.
SURGE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE REPORTS:
Rodriguez says their domestic violence hotline received over 1,000 calls in Dec. last year.
“We know that right now during the pandemic with people losing their jobs and having to quarantine, people are stuck at home. If there’s a survivor out there that needs to reach out, know you’re not alone,” said Rodriguez.
She says they recently received a grant of $100,000 by the Arizona Lottery which would allow them to afford more than 626 nights in hotel rooms to support more than 150 individuals and families.
The hotel program offers a sanitized place to stay at any time of the day where families can keep social distance and have security 24/7.
“We keep them there at the hotel until shelter space opens up and then we safely transition them into shelters,” said Rodriguez.
But that’s not all, she says they also do case management daily.
“What that means is that we go out to the hotel and provide anything as far as basic needs, food, hygiene just anything that you can think of, clothing, socks, pajamas.”
The news is a relief for people like Jose Guzman who manages a nonprofit for domestic violence victims called Padres y Parientes de Víctimas de Crimen.
“A lot of the families are afraid of reporting the abuse to police and on top of that they fear the pandemic. And many of the shelters are full right now,” stated Guzman.
Rodriguez says they connect to other organizations to help and have resources available in both English and Spanish.
“So, we want to make sure we can help as much as possible. It’s especially important when they have children, they already experienced so much abuse.”
Some of the resources available through A New Leaf are group therapy, financial coaching, workforce development, among others.
“For someone in that situation, it’s like a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Rosita.
If you are or know someone in need of help, but cannot make a phone call, you can always contact a new leaf on their website.
They have a confidential live chat service available at any time of the day. If you prefer calling, dial all 1-844-SAFE DVS or 480-890-3039.