By Celia Raney / New Mexico In Depth
With the latest order from the governor’s office asking all New Mexicans to stay home except for issues of health and safety – like grocery shopping or going to a doctor – victims of domestic violence may be stuck in their homes, too, with their abusers.
“This is probably an abuser’s dream,” said Jessica Fierro, a victim advocacy unit director for the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Albuquerque. “It’s the perfect recipe for a nightmare.”
The Centers for Disease Control list unemployment and social isolation, both consequences of efforts to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, as risk factors for violence.
“Things are very scary and unsure and uncertain, and that just puts even more stress on our victims of domestic violence and on the offenders,” Fierro said.
Most organizations are adapting to reach clients and meet the needs of domestic violence victims.
The DVRC is strengthening its telecommunications services, Fierro said, to help as many people as it can after shutting down its face-to-face operations.
The DVRC’s 24/7 hotline automatically transfers to one of its employees working from home. That person can then direct the caller to the service or staff member that can best help them.
Once a caller connects through the main office, a staff member will connect the caller with an advocate who can help the caller over the phone, so no person-to-person contact is needed.
“If they just want to talk to somebody and maybe just vent, we’re there for that as well,” Fierro said.
The center hasn’t yet seen an influx of calls since the stay at home order was enacted Tuesday, she said, but it wants to make sure victims at home know that services and resources are still available.
“Not everybody has the luxury of enclosing themselves in a room and telling people I don’t want to be bothered,” Fierro said, “So if they are afraid, if they feel they are (a victim), even if they’re just questioning the fact, call us, ask us, we can talk to you about it and we can go over some DV education with you over the phone and we can figure that out. We all work together and we are all still here.”
The DVRC also offers food and clothing assistance and can help victims and police officers fill out restraining order forms and contact judges. They will also help victims relocate if they need to flee their home.
Enlace Comunitario, a resource center for Spanish speaking domestic violence victims in Albuquerque and central New Mexico, has also moved its services online or to telecommunications. Executive Director Claudia Medina acknowledged it has already posed some challenges.
Because Enlace’s building is shut down and the staff don’t have access to their backup phone operating system at home, callers might hear a busy signal when they try to reach the center.
“It’s not the best thing,” Medina said. But if it happens, people should call back.
The center’s staff includes attorneys, advocates, case managers and teachers and the triage phone operator will connect the caller with a staff member who can best fulfill their needs.
The New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a statewide agency that works with local resource centers. Their services are still available, too, and they don’t expect that to change.
“All of our services are open and running,” said executive director Pam Wiseman. Some of those programs might have changed under the new mandate, she said, for example shelters that work with the NMCADV might put victims up in hotels instead of the shelter, but the coalition has no plans to stop serving people.
NMID has put together a list of resources, phone numbers, and agencies that are still active and helping people in need.
Nationwide Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
New Mexico Crisis and Access 24 hour Hotline, which will connect your nearest available resource: (855) 662-7474
New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline: (505) 246-9240
New Mexico Domestic Legal Aid Help Line: 1 (877) 974-3400
New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs: 1 (888) 883-8020
All Faiths Children Advocacy Center: (505) 271-0329
S.A.F.E House Emergency Shelter: (505) 247-4219
APD Victim Assistance Unit: (505) 243-2333
Albuquerque Women’s Resource Center: (505) 242-7033 or 505.277.3716
Morning Star – Advocacy Program for Native American Women: (505) 232-8299
Women’s Advocacy Group: (505) 884-1241
Enlace – Spanish Speaking: (505) 246-8972
911 or the non-emergency number: (505) 242-COPS (2677)
Restraining Orders: (505) 841-8400
Crime Victims Reparation Commission: (505) 841-9432
Center of Protective Environment: (575) 437-COPE (2673)
Grammy’s House: (575) 748-1198
Carlsbad Battered Families Shelter: (575) 885-4615
Hartley House: (575) 769-0305
Jicarilla Domestic Violence Program: (575) 759-3162
Crisis Center of Northern New Mexico: (505) 753-1656
Family Crisis Center: (505) 564-9192
Navajo United Methodist Center New Beginnings Program: (505) 325-7578
Battered Families Services: (505) 722-7483
Roberta’s Place: Main office: (505) 287-7200, crisis hotline: (505) 287-7724
Option, Inc: (575) 397-1576
Laguna Domestic Violence Support Program: (505) 552-6666
Las Cruces Police Department-Victim Assistance Unit: (575)-526-0795
La Casa: (575) 526-9513
Valencia Shelter Services: (505) 864-1383
Alternatives to Violence: (575) 445-5778
Haven House: (505) 896-4869
The Roswell Refuge: (575)-627-8361
New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence: (505) 246-9240
Esperanza Shelter: (505) 473-5200
El Refugio: (575) 538-2125
Community Against Violence: (575) 758-9888