Wednesday, January 27, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 47
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Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on January 5th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 45

Domestic Violence Solutions' executive director looks back at a year of meeting unprecedented need, all while pivoting to the virtual realm

By Malea Martin

When stay-at-home orders first came down in March, Domestic Violence Solutions Executive Director Jan Campbell expected her organization to be flooded with calls from victims quarantined at home with their abusers. At first, the opposite happened.

“The numbers in the beginning just clamped down,” Campbell recalled. “It was like people had never heard of domestic violence.”


ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
Domestic Violence Solutions stepped up to the plate this year to continue to support survivors of domestic violence, all while navigating uncharted virtual territory.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SOLUTIONS

This, of course, wasn’t because the issue in Santa Barbara County had magically dried up overnight. The abuse was still happening, but with everyone stuck at home, there was no one to see it and intervene. Domestic Violence Solutions had to find a way to still reach the people who needed the organization’s help during what Campbell called a “pandemic within the pandemic.” 

“When people are in trauma, they want to feel a human presence, and it’s hard to do that on a Zoom call,” Campbell said. “But we were able to convert that very quickly. We implemented a telehealth system that was HIPAA compliant, and our counseling calls really ratcheted up in late spring and throughout the summer.”

As Domestic Violence Solutions rounded out 2020, the statistics make one thing clear: The organization’s efforts to quickly adapt weren’t in vain. The transition to the telehealth system led to a 30 percent increase in the number of clients served in one-on-one and group counseling sessions, which are free and available to the public. 

Domestic Violence Solutions increased its work with hospitals and law enforcement to conduct remote crisis intervention and case management by 25 percent. The organization’s emergency shelters have been at capacity for most of the pandemic, leading it to forge relationships with local hotels to house even more clients. And with a rise in technological abuse, Domestic Violence Solutions gave no-cost, non-traceable cellphones to clients who needed them. 

During the 2019-20 fiscal year, the organization answered more than 4,000 hotline calls, provided more than 5,700 nights of shelter to survivors of domestic violence, responded to more than 500 calls from law enforcement and emergency rooms, and provided nearly 900 counseling sessions to survivors and their children.

Campbell doesn’t see this unprecedented need for domestic violence services slowing down anytime soon.

“I really believe that the first two or three months of 2021, we’re going to see a huge uptick in requests for our services. Once the holidays are over, we’re going to be slammed,” Campbell said. “But we’re prepared. Now we have implemented all the protocols, so I feel hopeful. What’s been really amazing to me is to look at all of our nonprofit partners and how they’ve adapted—how the social sector has worked together to support the most vulnerable.” 

This is the silver lining for Domestic Violence Solutions: the way the pandemic brought organizations together and inspired new people to support their causes.

“A lot of good things happened to us,” she said. “We solidified our relationship with CARE4Paws, which is hugely important for our clients that have pets, as we can’t take them in the shelter. There was a huge uptick in awareness about domestic violence. When we asked our donors or supporters for something, they responded immediately. Our year end [fundraising] appeal was the best I’ve ever seen.”

Moving into the new year, Campbell hopes that the conversation around domestic violence will continue to shift toward one of prevention, to keep people from becoming victims in the first place. 

“I really think that’s the way of the future,” she said. “Most domestic violence victims are not in our shelters. They’re our next-door neighbors, or people that live down the street from us. So the real push going forward, I hope, is more on education, outreach, and prevention.” 

Highlight

• The city of Santa Maria wants to help residents discard their Christmas trees free of charge, but it must be done soon. Christmas trees will be collected on residential solid waste collection routes during the week of Jan. 4 through 8. After this week, charges will apply to pick up trees. “Place Christmas trees on the curb at least 3 feet away from collection containers on scheduled collection day (which is one day later during holiday weeks),” the city advised in a statement. “Trees must be free of all stands, tinsel, and ornaments. Flocked trees or artificial trees will not be accepted.”

Malea Martin wrote this week’s Spotlight. Send hot tips about businesses, nonprofits, and good samaritans to spotlight@santamariasun.com.










Weekly Poll
Is the state being forthcoming enough with vaccine information?

No. They need to be transparent about why each county gets the amount it does.
It's not really in their hands; the federal government is the one making state allocations.
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