October is Domestic Violence (DV) Awareness month. This is a time for all of us to collectively speak out about the negative impacts domestic violence has on victims, their children, family and our community. I wish I could tell you that during the time of COVID, and sheltering in place, the incidents of abuse have decreased, but I cannot.
Domestic violence is not put on pause because we are living through a pandemic. In “normal” times, victims face many barriers that prevent them from fleeing. Some of these barriers are isolation, fear, denial, the legal system, loss of community and fearing the loss of family. Being isolated by an abuser is a common tactic used to keep victims away from family and friends; sheltering in place has negatively supported this tactic and COVID has added another barrier for victims.
Unless the victim is an essential worker, they and their children have been sheltering in place with their abuser since March. The opportunity to flee has been removed and normal support systems are inaccessible. For perpetrators of domestic violence, COVID has become another tool to manipulate their victims. South Peninsula Haven House is committed to offering victims support to keep themselves and their children safe.
Haven House is open. We are always open to serve adult and child victims of domestic violence. Since March, Haven House has been COVID conscious. Best practices are being followed, hand sanitizer is available and masks are provided. The best practice for shared living spaces is to keep capacity at 50%. Our domestic violence Shelter has been able to do this with the help of our amazing community. New program participants have been sheltered in safe places, and advocates have been working diligently to ensure individual needs are met. Haven House staff deliver food, personal supplies, clothing, and provide support. We could not do this without help from our community. Victims need all of us working together for the collective.
During the month of October, Haven House will be active on social media, providing educational information while raising awareness on the impact domestic violence has on individuals, family, and community. If you or someone you know is living with domestic violence, please call our crisis line at 235-8943. Haven House is available to you 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
We see you, we hear you, we are here for you.
Ronnie Leach is the executive director of South Peninsula Haven House.