BY ORIZO HAJIGURBAN
Trigger warning: upsetting subjects that pertain to domestic violence and abuse are discussed in this Q&A discussion.
Joyce Bilyeu, director of client services at The Family Justice Center in Sacramento said her organization saw a 112% increase in new and returning clients in 2020.
According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, their contacts decreased when stay-at-home orders were first put into place and once the orders slowly began to lift, their contacts increased by 9% compared to the same period in 2019.
Reports of domestic violence cases are increasing both nationally and locally. Experts believe the increasing demand to stay home and social isolation plays a major part in the rise in numbers and communities, businesses, and neighbors can play a critical role in a victim’s journey of escaping abuse.
In a series of reporting done by the Sacramento Bee’s Equity Lab, we’ve explored the rise in domestic violence cases after shelter-in-place orders were partially lifted, how to spot abuse and how to help as an ally.
- Is your friend anxious about making their partner upset or angry?
- Is your family member depressed and feeling isolated from friends, family and support system?
- Has your neighbor shared a history of violence with you?
- Has your co-worker called in sick a lot recently and withdrawn from social activities?
Q: As a neighbor, friend, or a witness of domestic abuse, what could I do to help?A: If something doesn’t seem right with your friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member, asking them privately “Are you ok? Do you want to talk?” can make all the difference. If they choose to talk with you, then actively listen. Saying something like “I am here for you if you ever want to talk.”It’s also important to share resources and options. “Have you heard of WEAVE? You call the support line anytime and talk to someone confidentially about what’s going on.” Or “You are not alone. Can I give you the phone number and website to WEAVE?”
- Provide information such as WEAVE’s support line and website when onboarding new employees. “If you are a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, or know someone who is, WEAVE is available 24/7 at (916) 920-2952 for information and confidential support.”
- Offer training for managers and human resources staff. There are legal workplace protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence in California and this information CAN BE FOUND WHERE
- Offer a “brown bag lunch” presentation for employees with training on how to recognize domestic violence, and how to support your co-workers.
- Place domestic violence resources in your break rooms, restrooms, public areas- so that anyone can take one or take a pic from their phone and have the resource when they need it.
- If you’ve noticed injuries or something that doesn’t feel right with your employee or co-worker, don’t be afraid to ask privately, “Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to help?” And don’t be afraid of the answer. If they disclose that they are experiencing abuse, harassment, stalking or assault, then actively listen non-judgmentally. Thank them for sharing with you. And ask them if you could give them resources for help and support.
Q: How can people being harmed get help?