OVID-19 has uncovered vastly differing realities for each of us. While some of us are sheltering safely with our loved ones, many others are experiencing intimate partner violence and are in fact trapped at home with their abusers, fearing for their lives and health, wondering how to make it safely through this pandemic with their children. And it is not any easier for survivors who are bravely struggling to leave their abusive relationships. They are facing homelessness, hunger, unemployment, health risks, and immense emotional trauma.
Monica is one such courageous survivor who left her abusive partner in June of this year. In Monica’s own words: “That night, my husband had been drinking again. The neighbor heard the argument and eventually called the police. My husband fled the scene before the police arrived, but I was scared to stay at home, worrying that my husbad would return. I was six months pregnant. I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t stay with my close friends because I knew he would come looking for me. And they did not want to have people over during the pandemic.”
Monica urgently needed a safe place to stay that night. She needed food, comfort, resources, and some time to plan. A friend told her about SAVE. Monica immediately called our 24-hr crisis line that is answered live all through the year. The SAVE advocate comforted Monica and helped her start planning for her safety. Together they called every shelter in the Bay Area to find space. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly given the pandemic, shelters were full that night. There was simply no place to go. Monica desperately needed to leave her home and there was no way the SAVE advocate was leaving Monica in that dangerous situation. Without further thought, the SAVE advocate placed Monica in a motel as an emergency solution.
However, placing Monica safely in a motel was just the first step in a long process of support. Over the next few hours and days, SAVE advocates worked hard to get Monica food, personal supplies, case management, and counseling resources. And this was all done while navigating the demands placed by a pandemic, with concern for the health and safety of the mother and child at risk.
In early October, Monica gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Arthur, and they moved into a low-income apartment in San Francisco. SAVE advocates continued working with Monica to provide her with donated home furniture and critical baby items. Although her income was severely impacted by the pandemic, we are delighted to share Monica has been able to maintain her job and is now rebuilding her life towards stable housing and financial independence, with the help of SAVE’s housing case managers.
Monica’s story is just one of many that highlight the increased need of emergency services and resources, with the advent of the pandemic. Since March SAVE has provided: 4,000 nights of emergency shelter for survivors in need, more than 1,000 sessions of virtual case management for 91 clients, and crisis line response to over 1,000 calls. Our clinical counseling services have also continued to operate to provide comfort and connection to 52 clients with over 500 remote sessions of counseling during a time of great anxiety and trauma.
The pandemic has truly required us to innovate in many ways. We have rushed to establish new ways of delivering our services, often pivoting online. SAVE staff believes in the values of being bold and compassionate and showing up for our clients, no matter what the challenge. While the world shut down, SAVE staff has remained committed and active in serving survivors in our community. However, there is no doubt that the pandemic has tested all our resilience and severely strained our resources and budgets.
We urgently need your help and your kindness to continue our work. We cannot provide these critical services without your support. We cannot continue to battle the pandemic without your donations. I am writing today to ask that you give generously and please help SAVE, so that many more survivors like Monica can begin their journey to safety and many more babies like Arthur can have the opportunity to grow-up in a violence-free, loving home.
You have always stepped up for SAVE. We hope this year will be no different. Our goal is to raise $100,000 to continue to serve families impacted by intimate partner violence.
Together we can ensure survivors make it through these unprecedented times. Together we can create networks of compassion and safety. Together we can surely create a better world.
With hope and gratitude,
Dr. Diane Anderson
Interim Executive Director
Please note: Some details of the story were changed to protect the safety of the survivors.