The YWCA provides a range of services to women suffering from violence. Photo courtesy of YWCA.Posted Dec. 20, 2020
As violence against women surges during pandemic, YWCA answers calls for help
by Adriana Caldera/ YWCA / Contributor
YWCA is the first, and only, multi-service agency for women in Santa Clara County that makes it possible for women, children and families to heal and thrive by providing services in the core areas of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, housing, clinic and school-based counseling, violence prevention, and childcare.
We know violence against women has increased due to the health and economic impacts brought on by COVID. Since March, calls to our crisis support line have increased 36% when compared to the same time last year and our advocacy services for sexual assault survivors have increased by over 100%.
The coronavirus has shined a light on the fact that not everyone can shelter in place safely. Survivors are forced to make the difficult decision of whether to leave a violent home or face homelessness. Since April 1, the YWCA has delivered an over 400% increase in emergency shelter for survivors here in Santa Clara County.
Between May and September, we have increased the number of women and families we helped with motel stays and essential needs, like food and transportation. We also began offering direct rental support and we've provided 175 individuals with nearly $250,000 in flexible financial assistance.
One survivor, Brooke (not her real name), was 23 weeks pregnant and ready to take the steps to leave an abusive partner when she called YWCA. She was furloughed from her job, she had no income, no savings left, no family close by and no roof over her head. Scared and unsure what to do next, she seriously considered going back to live with her abuser.
Our housing team was able to settle Brooke at a motel, provide her clothing, toiletries and food, and helped her buy prescription medications. Our advocates helped her get a temporary restraining order against her abuser, and accompanied her to court. Today, with the help of our counseling services, Brooke is on her path of healing and she's looking forward to welcoming her first child.
Our services are not only essential; they are life-saving. In this time of COVID-19, and always, we are committed to finding solutions and providing support for survivors. As soon as the shelter in place started, your YWCA moved quickly to develop new ways of working in today's virtual world.
We've partnered with the County of Santa Clara to provide child care for essential service workers. We know that, for an essential service worker, staying home to care for a child is not a choice. Currently, we deliver low-cost or no-cost child care to over 100 families.
Diana (not her real name), a single mother of three, works full-time at a grocery store and was barely making ends meet. When schools closed, she had nowhere to send her children during the day and, as an essential worker, she didn't have the flexibility of working from home. Like so many others, she was overwhelmed with worry about keeping her job, going to work without getting sick, and needed help with her children so they didn't fall behind.
We've been able to keep Diana's children and more than 100 other infants, preschoolers and school-aged children enrolled with no interruption in service since the pandemic started in March. We are providing after-school care and recreational activities, and we're offering distance learning.