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Addressing domestic violence crisis within the pandemic


Last year was not only a tough year due to the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, but also domestic violence cases were higher than usual. This separate health crisis still affects many women and children in Los Angeles.

In April 2020, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) reported having 16 percent more calls to their domestic violence hotline than they received in April of 2019. Also, the LA County Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Council Hotline reported having seen an increase in calls monthly in 2020, compared to the year prior. The highest volume seen was in May, where calls tripled from May 2019.

The National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence (NCHDV) recently hosted a conference to raise awareness about domestic violence, as well as to pursue partnerships with other non-profit domestic violence prevention and intervention organizations, such as the Jenesse Center Inc. in South Los Angeles, YWCA of San Gabriel Valley, Community Legal Aid SoCal, and the East Los Angeles Women’s Center, who network together as the Leadership Council for the Domestic Violence and Health Care of Los Angeles (DVHCLA).

The Jenesse Center has been serving the community since 1980 and has been providing life-saving trauma-sensitive, holistic, culturally responsive, and comprehensive services to survivors of domestic violence and their families.

The Center’s goal is to proceed with prevention methods to support safe and healthy communities free of any sort of violence and threat. This non-profit not only operates locally but is also being acknowledged nationally and globally to raise awareness of violence against women, children, and men, although research has shown that more women than men are facing domestic violence.

The purpose of the DVHCLA is to collaborate and present research as well as new, innovative approaches in addressing and preventing violence.

This ninth annual conference was virtual due to the current situation and focused on the convergence of health with sexual, intimate, and domestic violence. The field’s leading public health, domestic violence, and medical experts from around the world were invited.

Four specific goals were discussed at the conference:

• Impact and partnership in the field of health and domestic violence:

• Generating new opportunities to advance relationships and proceed with common strategies, as well as providing planning that leaves members feeling activated, challenged, connected, inspired, and renewed.

• Latest health findings and promising practices:

Promoting the latest creative partnership perspectives and promising practices that direct or explore:

• Ways in which sexual/domestic violence impacts the well-being and the health of an individual and the community.

• Relations between sexual/domestic violence, as well as other types of violence, and institutions that preserve oppression and harm.

• Distribution of public health, social justice, and community-based solutions and prevention methods.

• Innovative Research:

Highlighting the latest research about mental/physical health effects of violence, general health, risk and protective components, advocacy-based innovations, as well as prevention. Partnerships between public health and Medicaid programs, legal systems, providers, health management systems, domestic violence advocates, and social service agencies.

• Prevention and Intervention:

Promoting policy strategies regarding health and domestic violence that assist better responses to violence and prevention. Highlighting intervention and prevention policies appropriate to diverse classes, races, cultures, religions, ethnicity, ages, genders, physical abilities, sexual identities, communities, and geographic settings.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RALIANCE, and Futures Without Violence were excited to present the 2021 winner of the Dr. Linda E. Saltzman New Investigator Award to Dr. Nkiru Nnawulezi, an Assistant Professor of Community Psychology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). This award is given out at every NCHDV and honors Saltzman, who worked as a researcher at CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention. Her groundbreaking work became the foundation for violence prevention. Nnawulezi’s work focuses on reaching survivors in a more complex setting and her research incorporates, as well as pursues, the endowment of Saltzman.

At the peak of the pandemic crisis in 2020, when the first stay-at-home order took place and schools were closed, the LAPD reported that conditions created situations where child abuse and neglect went undetected. Teachers most often report recognized child abuse.

Spousal victim survival was even more difficult during the pandemic, due to the stay-at-home orders. What made the situation even more hazardous was the fact that women’s shelters were operating at a limited capacity.

The Jenesse Center aims to transform the lives of survivors, and the community by offering referrals, resources, and education that other shelters are unable to provide.

Those seeking shelter can call the Jenesse Hotline at (800) 479-7328. Victims in immediate danger should call the LAPD Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 978-3600.