Mountain View Voice

News - December 28, 2012

Giving support to domestic violence victims

by Ashley Finden

One in four women and one in seven men have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lifetimes, according to a national statistic from the Centers for Disease Control.

The Domestic Violence department of the YWCA in downtown San Jose is one of the organizations that provide a support network for Mountain View Voice residents.

Women and children suffering from domestic violence can find support at the YWCA or by calling the 24-hour toll-free domestic hotline number at (800) 572-2782. According to Adriana Caldera, the director of the Domestic Violence department, the volunteers and staff who answer the crisis calls go through 40 hours of training. She said the staff speaks Spanish and English while many of the volunteers speak other languages as well.

"We also offer an emergency shelter, and it is truly an emergency shelter in that we provide 30 to 60 days for women and children who are in need of escaping their homes," Caldera said.

The exact location of the emergency shelter is not disclosed, for the safety of the clients. It has 16 beds and can house up to 20 individuals a night — and most nights they are at full capacity, she said.

The emergency shelter provides more than a place to sleep. It offers basic needs, such as clean underwear, toiletries and a pantry stocked withculturally appropriate and nutritious food, according to Caldera.

"Often times, when women and children come to us at the shelter, they have nothing," Caldera explained. "So they're just escaping whatever violence may have just happened."

She said there is a total of 68 beds designated for domestic violence survivors in all of Santa Clara County, which are full most of the time.

Currently, there is a grant to provide some rental assistance so clients can obtain a more long-term housing situation, according to Caldera. This helps, so survivors don't jump from one shelter to another, she added.

A lot of the funds for the Domestic Violence department, and the YWCA as a whole, comes from community supporters. The YWCA's program, formerly called Support Network for Battered Women, is one of seven local-serving nonprofits supported by the Voice's annual Holiday Fund. Donations to the Holiday Fund are divided equally among all recipients, with 100 percent of contributions going to the local nonprofits.

Kelly Ramirez, YWCA Chief Development Officer, commented on how they are lucky to have support from multiple foundations, but she said that a majority of the support comes from elsewhere.

"We do rely very heavily on the investment of the community — individuals with their individual donations, and it does make a difference," Ramirez said.

Most of the government funding the organization receives goes toward helping to maintain and operate the emergency shelter, Caldera said.

The department is also educating people across Santa Clara County about the definition of domestic violence, how to identify if someone is in a healthy relationship and about sexual assault, she said.

Caldera said that there are national statistics showing how domestic violence is highly under-reported. Ramirez said that as more people become aware about domestic violence, the resources are available to help victims will become more well-known.

"I think that one of the things that the (Domestic Violence) department does very well here is awareness and education," Ramirez said.

The shelter wants to do more and there is a demand for their services, according to Ramirez.

"We want to make a change as well as provide the services that we do," Ramirez said.

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