In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and an increase in domestic violence during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Emerge! The Center Against Domestic Abuse is asking residents of Pima County to join their educational campaigns and Stuff-the-Bus events.
The non-profit organization helps victims of domestic violence, whether women or men, by finding them refuge, offering crisis interventions and teaching safety planning. These services continued during the pandemic, but Emerge! had to adapt quickly to continue providing them to those experiencing domestic violence, which increased in some households as families struggled with stay-at-home recommendations, school closures and others aspects of the pandemic.
“We had to review and revise all of our policies and procedures very quickly, to ensure that we were responding in a way that maximized the safety of participants and staff,” said Lauryn Bianco, Emerge! vice president of operations and philanthropy.
Bianco said the organization needs to change everything when it comes to service delivery. Hotline employees had to take their phones home and set up a secure line. In-person meetings have become Zoom and Emerge meetings! had to close his shelter.
In order to welcome families who needed to be relocated to be protected, Emerge! managed to relocate families to different locations. This led to a surprising awareness.
“During the pandemic, we were able to provide services in independent spaces for families, and we learned that this actually alleviated many different traumas that families suffered when they entered our shelter.” , said Bianco.
The current shelter usually brings families together, which is why the shelter had to be closed when COVID hit Arizona. Authorities find that separate housing for families helps start the healing process for survivors faster than shared housing. While there is no quick process to heal trauma, the separate accommodations have received overwhelmingly positive reviews from their clients.
After seeing the reaction of customers to independent accommodation, Emerge! started asking local governments for funds to build a bigger shelter.
“Any expansion of shelter capacity is needed now, not just for Emerge !, but for all of the social service agencies we deal with,” said Steve Kozachik, Tucson City Council member.
The City of Tucson and Pima County Supervisory Board passed resolutions that each government agency would provide $ 1 million for the expansion of Emerge! although association officials remain discreet about the details.
“Their clients are vulnerable to the abusive partner finding them and continuing to abuse them, so they protect their clients’ privacy very well,” Kozachik explained. “The other thing is that there are kids involved.”
Emerge! officials said they will speak publicly about the expansion as soon as plans are finalized. In the meantime, Bianco is asking everyone to participate in Domestic Violence Awareness Month throughout October.
Emerge! is running an educational campaign on domestic violence prevention in October as well as charity campaigns to engage the community in helping survivors.
“Prevention efforts can really be like educating you about the root causes of domestic violence, not just the warning signs and red flags,” Bianco explained. “We really want people to understand why abuse exists even in our culture and in our community. “
Emerge! has made it its mission over the past few years to train employees in normal tasks while doing additional training on racial disparities and social dynamics that can affect their clients.
“Since 2015, we have really set out to become an anti-racist organization,” said Bianco.
Emerge! is also posting videos on its website featuring the personal experiences of employees who continued to provide services to customers during the pandemic. Bianco said the nonprofit is extremely grateful to the employees who have come every day to try and find services for their clients during the pandemic.
Residents of Tucson can help by donating supplies to the nonprofit organization’s Stuff-the-Bus event. The public is invited to donate new items that would help a survivor and their children start from scratch in a new home (think toiletries, clothing, reusable water bottles, cooking utensils, and linens. Of house). A full list of possible items is available on Emerge! under the DVAM tab.
Northwestern residents can bring items to Stuff-the-Bus at Oro Valley Walmart, 2150 E. Tangerine Road, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, October 29. Emerge also hosts a virtual Stuff-the-Bus on their website. Amazon Smile allows you to purchase a product from their Wish List and send it to the Emerge admin office.
You can also show your support for victims of domestic violence by wearing purple on October 21. Bianco said the event is a symbolic recognition of domestic violence as an issue that doesn’t just affect women. People of all demographics can be victims of domestic violence.
“The most important part of October is recognizing that domestic violence can happen to anyone,” Bianco said. “This is not a group of people who experience it and so in order for us as a community to end the abuse we all need to be involved in understanding how we can take a stand and / or take action to help.
Visit the Emerge! website for more information on preventing domestic violence and how you can participate in Domestic Violence Awareness Month at emergecenter.org.