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October is ‘Domestic Violence Awareness Month.’ Some local organizations say they’ve seen an increase in domestic abuse since the pandemic has started.

SAFE Family Justice Center in Indio is dedicated to helping survivors of abuse, which they say takes on many forms:  “Domestic violence is not just physical abuse. A lot of our survivors…there is emotion or financial or other kinds of abuse that have taken place” said Monica Podlesny, supervising victim advocate.

They say they’re handling an increase in cases of abuse in recent months: “School closures…a lot of people are having more time at home. There’s more isolation,” said Krystal Cota, victim advocate.

They are offering something called the #SurvivorSpeaks workshop — a virtual resource where survivors of abuse can speak with counselors and each other.

“We are basically giving survivors a safe place to share their stories a lot of our survivors have never had a place to share it,” said Podlesny.

At the end of each workshop, survivors each write down their stories. Those stories are published anonymously in a book that is shared on the center’s social media platforms to help raise awareness and build community.

“Today I am stronger, happier and will never let someone take me down that path again,” reads one entry.

The center asks each survivor to accompany their story with an image that reminds them of their journey through domestic violence.

The next workshop is being held October 16th from 6-8 p.m. Those interested, or anyone currently impacted by abuse and seeking help, should call the center at 760-863-8363.

The center also offers free help sessions each Monday.

Other options for victims of abuse:

Call 9-1-1 for Police or Sheriff
Alternatives to Domestic Violence Crisis Line – (951) 683-0829 or 1-800-339-7233
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224

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