Perhaps you have heard the news that, across the nation and around the globe, intimate partner abuse has increased while families have sheltered in place. Locally we have seen spikes in domestic violence-related 911 calls in San Francisco, a rise in domestic violence cases in San Jose, and our own San Mateo County Sheriff’s office has noted an increase in domestic violence reports. Our thoughts are with those who are at risk during the shelter in place, and we know yours are too.
I wanted to reassure you that CORA is still serving victims and survivors. While the COVID-19 global health crisis continues, our services remain largely intact, although they look a little different. Our main office is still closed to the public, although most of our services – legal, mental health, and education and advocacy have gone fully remote. Our crisis hotline continues to take calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are often asked if the calls have increased, and while they have, it is also notable that these calls are longer and more complex. We are learning that the threat of intentionally being infected by COVID is now a common tool being used against callers to our hotline, and we are diligently working to get the word out that you don’t have to stay in an abusive relationship because of coronavirus, and CORA is here to help.
Our shelters continue to operate, although to allow for the necessary physical distancing, we have reduced our capacity and are utilizing hotel and motel rooms to ensure persons fleeing have somewhere safe to go. Residents of our safe houses are provided masks, gloves and disinfectant to help reduce the risk of transmission. Like families throughout the Bay Area, the children we serve cannot go to school and are now home all day and living in close quarters. We are working with these families to ensure they have what they need for school and to keep their children occupied.
One serious issue we have encountered is that, as we look across both our shelters and our supportive housing programs, 85% of our participants have lost their job due to COVID-19. For families living on the financial edge in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets, this is a catastrophic loss. Fear of homelessness has always been a common reason for a victim to return to an abusive partner, but even more so now. We are responding and doing everything we can to help ensure our families are safe and their housing is secure, and we recognize that this fallout from job loss and housing insecurity coupled with the trauma of abuse will stay with our participants long after the coronavirus threat has disappeared.
Our commitment to this work remains unshaken. We have a wonderful community who has shown extraordinary generosity during this most uncertain of times. You stood up for us so we could stand with victims and survivors of abuse, and we are all so very grateful.
Follow us on social media for up-to-date info.