Women’s Shelter: Demand Up, Services Continue
By Dianne Anderson
More people are open about domestic violence lately and sometimes there’s more action around policy, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to relax.
Looking around Long Beach, the Women’s Shelter has seen a spike in demand for women with children trying to escape domestic violence, especially since COVID and the end of the moratorium.
Lily Lopez, director of programs at the shelter, said the lockdown during the pandemic was not always because of the pandemic.
But, at least before COVID-19, some had a way out away from their abusers.
“When COVID started, everybody couldn’t go out, they couldn’t go to their jobs, that’s when the abuse started. That’s when we were very impacted with phone calls, hotlines,” she said.
The shelter also was limited due to the health department’s restricted access to prevent COVID-19 spread. She had to think outside the box, and collaborate on getting the women into hotel rooms so their organization could provide services.
Now with housing costs, evictions, and energy bills skyrocketing, the pandemic seems to have subsided, but the financial strain is another aspect of abuse. Women in danger, or mothers with children, may be afraid to leave and end up homeless.
She said the demand is high for shelters, but help is available as various agencies pull together.
Her organization provides training so their women can find employment and finally get to a place where they can pay the bills, but affordability only goes so far locally.
“It’s really hard to rent anything in the city of Long Beach or L.A. County, for that matter. A lot of our clients have left L.A. to go to the Inland Empire,” she said.
Their organization works with several other housing agencies, where from 30 to 45 percent of their clients are placed. Many of the rest go to transitional shelters if they require an extended stay.
“They help them with jobs and daycare,” she said. “The work we do here is the outreach part. We are able to provide a continuum of care, case management, and parenting classes. We are also incorporating a financial literacy class because people haven’t saved.”
The organization is requesting and appreciates donations, but they can’t accept used clothes due to health department COVID restrictions. Instead, people can give gift cards.
She is inviting everyone out to support their October gala event, which she hopes will bring out the crowd.
“We all understand that not a lot of people have a lot of money right now, for us whatever they can give is fine,” she said, adding that one of the things they continue to use and need are face masks and hand sanitizers.
The Domestic Violence Resource Center is located at 4201 Long Beach Blvd., Ste. 102. It’s open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In June, the Harvard Gazette cited the American Journal of Emergency Medicine that reported alarming trends in U.S. domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline received more than 74,000 calls, chats, and texts in February, the highest monthly contact volume of its 25-year history.
Getting help is important.
Domestic violence is also not just limited to a certain group of people. Lopez said that any social status, including men in the LGBTQ community, do not have to stay in dangerous situations.
“It can happen to anyone. There’s no color line for domestic violence, lower economic status or high status, it can be a teacher, professor, someone who doesn’t have money,” she said.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that nearly 20 people per minute – some 10 million women and men each year – are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.
One in four women and one in nine men suffer severe intimate partner violence, sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and, or, partner stalking, and physical and mental disorders.
Funding from the American Rescue Plan Act came down this past year in the form of additional services from the city and state to make some headway on the problem.
Organizations such as the Long Beach Community Foundation have also helped with grant funding in the past for her organization.
Lately, she said the shelter is extending services with mental health help, now available online and is attracting participation.
Even as the demand has increased, she said there are more resources today than in prior decades to address the needs of someone facing domestic violence.
“They don’t have to come on-site. That’s another piece, the anxiety part of leaving the house. We’re able to use mental health to service those clients to some of our classes on Zoom, and have more participants on zoom than coming in person,” she said.
Statistics of the fallout since COVID-19 are still coming in.
According to the Emory University School of Medicine Nia Project, 85% of domestic violence, called IPV victims, are women. Nia is a principle of Kwanzaa, meaning purpose.
“A woman is beaten every 9 seconds,” their website states. “Every year nearly 5.3 million incidents of IPV occur among U.S. women aged 18 and older. IPV results in nearly 1300 deaths and 2 million injuries every year in the United States. More than 3 women are killed by husbands/boyfriends everyday.”
For help, or for more information on the gala event,
For more information, call Domestic Violence’s Resource Center at (562)-437-7233