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Local domestic violence shelter says victims can feel safe there amid coronavirus pandemic

SAPD has reported an increase in domestic violence calls, but the shelter has not. They're taking steps to make sure everyone can be safe from abuse and coronavirus.

SAN ANTONIO — It is an invisible problem in the best of times. In a time of isolation, even more so.

Family Violence Prevention Services President Marta Prada-Pelaez says victims of domestic violence can depend on the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter as much now as before the coronavirus pandemic began.

“Domestic violence feeds on stressors – a person that loses his job, a person that is not able to go outside and relieve some of that tension and aggression,” she said.

“We are first responders and as such, we understand our moral contract with the community, and we’re there to assist.”.

But she says since the Stay Home, Work Safe order went into effect, she’s noticed a disturbing trend. The San Antonio Police Department has reported an 18% increase in domestic violence calls, but the crisis hotline for the shelter has not seen the same increase.

Rather, the Battered Women and Children's Shelter received 62 fewer calls in March than they did in February - a decrease of 25%.

“My fear is that that may be a reflection of the victim not being able to make that phone call and request shelter,” she said.

Prada-Pelaez wanted to stress that victims can feel safe coming to the shelter for help. The staff has been following all guidelines to minimize the spread of the virus.

“Disinfection goes on twice a day. The way in which we distribute meals has changed. So it has created a more intense level of assistance for the residents and of course for the staff as well.”

They are also calling for donations of supplies of both sanitary items and thermometers as well as everyday items victims may need.

 “Everything and anything that we take for granted, that is what we need because the victims come with absolutely nothing in their hands to begin life from that point on.”

Supplies the shelter is calling for include:

  • Thermometers
  • Masks
  • Gloves
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Brooms
  • Mops
  • Sheets and bedding
  • Pillows
  • Diapers
  • Cups, plates and utensils
  • Toothbrushes

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