Domestic violence is a dark underside within our community. It comes in many forms, often hiding under the mask of soulmate. It is the words that sear venom into the depth of your psyche or the dull sting of healing wounds. It is the lack of access to essential assets and the non-empathetic theft of access to the body. To the soul. The devourer of happiness, trust, and eventually self.
It can happen to anyone. To those of you, like myself, who have endured, or are currently it is not your fault. You are not alone.
Some in our community have been wearing masks since long before the pandemic. As human beings we long to belong, to feel known, however, some individuals use love as a weapon drawing potential targets in with promises of “forever.” The first step, leaving, is by far the hardest. Although abusers will claim otherwise, it is possible to survive, and even thrive in the aftermath of abuse. You are worthy of love.
Read it again — you are worthy.
Many individuals will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. In California, this year alone, rates of abuse against women were calculated to be at about 33% whereas rates of violence against men were calculated at around 27 %. Statistically speaking, many in our community have, or will, experience abuse from someone who claims to love them or will know someone who has. For parents fleeing abuse with their children, it can be especially difficult to escape. It can be easy to believe having a family is worth enduring whatever may come but children will suffer greatly from exposures to parental violence and often become targets as well. Fortunately, there are several incredible resources in our community that accept individuals and children, some of which are gender inclusive, and accessible to individuals with little to no income. Many of the resources contained within this article rely on community funding to provide services to to our county. For those interesting in helping, please consider making a donation to the following organizations.
When my abuser told me, "you have nowhere to go" — the following resources made it possible for my son and I to start over — uncaged. You are worthy. Break the cycle. You are worthy. Fly away.
Domestic Violence Solutions is a local resource which provides a variety of services to individuals who are escaping intimate partner abuse. They have confidential shelters across the country available to accommodate those who do not have access to a safe environment while taking back their lives, and in some cases, the lives of their children. The shelters are inclusive and can assist with transportation.
As well as short-term emergency housing, DVS provides valuable case management services and assists individuals in securing resources for permanent housing, employment, and therapeutic intervention within the community. As of the date of publishing, DVS affirmed that they are still offering emergency shelter and transitional housing services.
For housing, Saint Vincent’s Santa Barbara’s Family Strengthening Program may be an option. At Saint Vincent’s, up to two children under 5 years of age are accepted with single mothers 18 years of age and older. St. Vincent’s is a Catholic organization and provides up to 27 months of transitional housing and parenting classes for those accepted at a fee of about under 500 dollars a month. St.Vincent’s is run by a licensed psychologist, however, the program is not trauma- focused. It provides weekly therapy sessions as well as childcare. Therapy is not provided for children. However, during case management they may provide referrals to organizations that provide evidence based and confidential, inclusive services such as CALM. St. Vincent’s is located in Santa Barbara and may have a wait list. There is an application and interview process pending acceptance to the FSP program.
Child Abuse Listening and Mediation (CALM) offers trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy to families within Santa Barbara County. Parenting classes, and therapeutic services for children and parents are offered here. Throughout North and South County CALM is a valuable health care resource – they are currently conducting telehealth services in compliance with COVID-19 protocols. I contacted CALM and they confirmed with me that they are “continuously accepting new referrals from within our community” as of the date of publishing.
There are several other useful services within our community as well including the Legal Aid Foundation. For individuals who need assistance with restraining orders or custody documents, legal aid may be an option for qualifying low income community members in North and South County. For survivors of sexual violence North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center is an important resource for navigating the justice system and victim advocacy. For South county residents the sister organization Standing Together to End Sexual Assault may be of service.
Leaving is the hardest step, your fear does not equate to weakness. You are worthy. It is not your fault. You are not alone.