October was first designated as National Domestic Violence Month in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It was initially begun as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country.
Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it.
Since the Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994, we’ve come a long way. This landmark legislation, led by then Senator Joe Biden, combined new provisions that hold offenders accountable and provide programs and services for victims. Between 1993 and 2010, the overall rate of domestic violence dropped nearly two-thirds and state laws have reformed to address issues such as dating abuse in the workplace, stalking, employment discrimination and more.
I invited our local organization, Domestic Violence Solutions (DVS), to tell us how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their service delivery, to describe their basic services, to talk about special activities planned for October, ways they collaborate with others, and ways you can support them financially. Read below about the impressive work this vital organization is providing for our local residents.
How has the COVID-19 virus affected your service delivery?
“Despite the boundaries that this pandemic has placed on us, DVS has successfully continued to serve many victims, survivors and families, house those in need in our shelters, and advocate for our clients,” explained Jan Campbell, Executive Director of DVS.
COVID-19 has definitely shifted the way DVS completes day-to-day tasks. We are constantly focusing on how we can keep our advocates and families safe, while helping our community as much as possible. During this pandemic, we have made the following changes to our services:
- Limited face-to-face contact
- We continue to work with hospitals and law enforcement encouraging over the phone crisis intervention, as well as limiting overlap in shifts between our advocates
- Case management is currently being done over the phone and will be transitioning to in-person within the upcoming weeks with all safety precautions in place (Plexiglas separators, six feet, and shields)
- Counseling is virtual and has been very successful this way. We have been able to help clients who are out-of-state.
- We offer free group counseling that has been helpful for many clients
- We are using hotels for our clients in Santa Barbara. Our Santa Barbara shelter is communal living and we have been placing clients in hotels for two weeks to decrease unnecessary exposure. During this time, we are providing clients with case management, safety planning, goal setting, as well as emergency food, clothing and other necessities.
- Providing a variety of technology for our clients. Technological abuse, one of the types of domestic violence, has been on the rise. Abusers have placed tracking devices on their partners’ phones, tapped their phone calls, posted inappropriate photos on X-rated sites impersonating their partner, hacked into emails, created new passwords, and more.
Please describe your basic services.
Domestic Violence Solutions offers a variety of services to our community. Our mission is to provide safety, shelter and support for individuals and families affected by domestic violence and collaborate with community partners to raise awareness regarding the cause, prevalence and impact. DVS provides:
- 24-hour crisis support
- Safe and confidential shelters
- Emergency response with law enforcement to all domestic violence calls, client advocacy
- Permanent project-based section 8 housing
- Housing First program, which offers temporary assistance for families to re-enter the housing market successfully
- 40-Hour domestic violence training
- Job and life skills coaching
- Teen and community outreach and education
- Community support groups
- Referrals to other agencies
Do you have any special activities planned for October?
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and our theme is “Valiant Voices.” Due to COVID we are unable to have our in-person vigils as we have had for many years. Instead we are trying something new and hosting a series of Zoom meetups every Thursday at 6pm during the month of October.
Each week will focus on a different topic with our staff as the experts presenting the information and answering any questions. During each of these Zoom sessions, we will read the silent witness stories of the ten most recent lives lost to domestic violence in our county, honoring and remembering their lives.
We encourage everyone in our community and in other states to participate and learn about what our organization does and other important domestic violence related topics. To participate, you must register on our website and then the Zoom link will be sent to you.
Which organizations do you collaborate or partner with?
DVS works with so many organizations here in our wonderful Santa Barbara County. Here are a few that we work with on a weekly if not daily basis.
- A.R.E.4Paws- Safe Haven Program
- Family Service Agency (FSA)
- Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM)
- Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA)
- North County Rape Crisis & Child Protection Center
- Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County
- Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People
- Foodbank of Santa Barbara County
- Transition House
- Unity Shoppe
- What is LOVE
- Victim-Witness Assistance Program
Do you have any special fundraisers coming up or anything you want to say to potential donors?
We will have a donation portion at the end of each Zoom meetup. The first Thursday’s ask is for in-kind items that are always needed; the other days we have a menu of items, showing what your donation amount can purchase for our clients.
Our end-of-the-year appeal will be sent out asking for donations from our current and potential new donors in December. We will also be reaching out to corporations around the same time, offering them a yearly corporate sponsorship that will include benefits for those donors.
We are so grateful to all of our longtime donors and our new donors. It takes more than a village – it takes a community!