Safer at Home? WomenShelter of Long Beach has housing for those who aren’t

The WomenShelter of Long Beach is still providing safe supportive housing for victims of domestic violence who need to escape their abusers during the stay at home order.

As the community shelters in place in their homes, isolated from others for the foreseeable future, individuals being abused by partners or parents are especially vulnerable.

“This situation is a terrifying time for victims of domestic violence,” Mary Ellen Mitchell, executive director of WomenShelter Long Beach, said. “They feel stuck.”

Despite having to close its Domestic Violence Resource Center due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the WomenShelter of Long Beach will continue to offer a confidential emergency supportive housing facility to those escaping domestic violence.

The WomenShelter’s 24/7 domestic violence hotline can still be reached at (562) 437-4663, and is open to all victims of domestic violence regardless of age or gender.

In a memorandum, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a national public-interest law center, listed the following as factors that may lead to increased instances of domestic violence during the stay at home order:
– Requiring victims to shelter in place in a home that may be dangerous
– Limited access to safe shelter as more places close
– Unemployment, financial hardship and increased stress for families
– Lack of support from friends, family and services
– No longer being able to receive face to face counseling
– Children no longer see mandated reporters at schools

With schools now closed, children no longer have access to mandated reporters such as teachers. Mandated reporters are individuals whose job legally requires them to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the authorities. Whereas before, it would be harder for visible or serious injuries to go unnoticed by teachers, school staff and other members of the community in general, concerns have arisen about what might happen now that vulnerable minors are kept in isolation in dangerous households.

While the WomenShelter of Long Beach has been among one of the many community organizations that have had to cancel in-person counseling for survivors, its Youth Client Advocates are keeping in contact with the shelter’s youth clients remotely.

“They are checking in and have informed the youth that we are here for them,” Mitchell told the Signal Tribune.

Mitchell said that the WomenShelter had not seen an increase in calls since the stay at home order began, but that that may be cause for greater concern, a possible sign that domestic violence victims are unable to reach out and call with their abusers nearby.

Those needing help can also email the WomenShelter of Long Beach at [email protected] The shelter’s website contains a ‘quick escape’ button near the top right corner of the page, in case a viewer needs to exit immediately if their abuser walks in the room.