Story By: Kim Quintero
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Stay-at-home orders during this pandemic can be dangerous for victims of domestic violence, and right now, resources are scarce.
“What we’re hearing is that the calls for domestic violence have really sky rocketed over the last couple of weeks,” said Susan Berman, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation CEO. “We know that many people are at home, unable to go to work, under stress, financial strain, people have lost their jobs, now the kiddos are home and people are home schooling, so it’s really exacerbating what might already be a difficult situation for a lot of women in the Valley.”
Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Tuesday morning a new state initiative that links Arizonans to resources they can use during the coronavirus outbreak.
Berman has a full team of social workers who are helping women all over Arizona. Right now, they’re taking phone calls, hosting webinars and providing online counseling.
“What’s concerning is what we’re hearing from our clients is they’re feeling so alone and afraid and they don’t know where to go, and actually, they can’t leave and go anywhere under the quarantine that we’re experiencing, so they’re stuck and it is really a frightening experience for everybody concerned,” Berman said. “What we’re recommending to family members who know that someone in their family might be a victim of domestic violence, is to check on them. Call, email on a regular basis. Try to have a Skype call so you can see them, and if possible, come up with a catch phrase or a word or a term that would tell you that it’s time to call police.”
While this organization doesn’t have emergency shelters, they are connecting women with organizations that do, like Chrysalis.
According Patricia Klahr, the president and CEO of Chrysalis, they are housing women, children and even men who are victims of abuse, as well as providing therapy through video conferencing. Unfortunately, Klahr says their shelters are at capacity, and they have long waiting lists for beds.
“What I would say to state leaders is this is a community issue, and we all need to work to help get people safe, and if that means releasing additional funds, if that means with helping finding hotel rooms that will work with us,” said Klahr. “And we also have to keep in mind that some people may also have the virus, and how do we need to work within that.”
Of course, if you’re in a violent situation and fear for your life, immediately call 911.
“If it’s not a really volatile situation, I would say do some safety planning. Make sure you have your kids immunization records. Make sure you have your bank information, any keys you may need, drivers license, an extra set of clothes for the kids and maybe a favorite toy of the kids. Then you plan on the next time something may happen, or you feel like it’s escalating, that you have an exit strategy, and it could be going to a friends house, it could be calling somebody, or it could be calling us from your cell when it’s safe. We will help direct and guide you, and we’re here 24 hours a day for anybody,” said Klahr.
If you need help, the phone number for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation is 602-252-8494.
The helpline for Chrysalis is 602-944-4999.
There’s also a local domestic violence hotline you can call at 1-800-782-6400.