Story by: Megan Diskin
In a time of stay-in-place orders and closed public spaces, Ventura County groups that provide services for people in abusive relationships are still offering help.
The Coalition For Family Harmony, Interface Children & Family Services and the Ventura County Family Justice Center are working to heed the advice of the Ventura County Public Health Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, each agency helps a vulnerable population. Among the population are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, elder abuse and child abuse.
The growing need to limit the spread of the virus by staying home is likely to become stressful for people who experience violence inside the home, said Caroline Prijatel-Sutton, the coalition’s executive director.
The organization’s Oxnard-based office is still open but staffing at the physical space is limited, Prijatel-Sutton said. Counseling will continue either over the phone or video conference, she said. The coalition is going to work with clients who don’t have these resources on a case-by-case basis, Prijatel-Sutton said.
“We don’t want to lose people, especially when they are in the middle of a crisis,” the executive director said.
Additionally, the coalition’s shelter for those experiencing domestic violence or people who are in rape crisis will remain open. Men, women and children are allowed inside and the shelter will practice social distancing, Prijatel-Sutton said. The shelter will accept as many new intakes as it possibly can under the current public health crisis, she said.
The address of the shelter is not released to the public. People can call the coalition’s bilingual 24/7 hotline at 800-300-2181 to get help creating an escape plan, Prijatel-Sutton.
The coalition’s executive director suggests people in an abusive relationship call the hotline and make a plan to escape. If they can’t make the call themselves, a friend or loved one can make the call to start creating and implementing a plan to get out, Prijatel-Sutton said.
Communicating with a people who are in these types of relationships is also recommended during this time, she said.