Even with scores of people isolated at home and advocates cautioning that domestic abuse incidents could increase in a city where the situation is already dire, the phones at the UMOS Latina Resource Center still aren’t ringing, said its manager, Mariana Rodriguez.
“I think that people need help, but they think we are shut down because of the coronavirus,” said Rodriguez. The center provides support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
Although services are provided to people of any gender, race or age group, she said, many of the clients the center helps are undocumented immigrants who work in the affected industries.
“I think they are experiencing this COVID-19 crisis like no one else,” she said.
She wants them to know that they are not alone.
Bilingual and other help available
“We are still here for you, although we are doing things a little differently right now,” Rodriguez added.
The Latina Resource Center operates a 24-hour bilingual crisis line to provide safety planning, help contacting law enforcement and other support from advocates. The center has also partnered with Civitas Law Group to help individuals, including those who speak only Spanish, file temporary restraining orders online. Monday was the first day individuals in Milwaukee County could file for restraining orders online, a process created to help safeguard individuals from COVID-19.
The Sojourner Family Peace Center also is providing support for domestic violence victims and assistance to those looking to file temporary restraining orders online.
“Our Advocates help with the filing process and discuss other strategies and options
for staying safe,” read part of a statement issued Monday by Carmen Pitre, CEO and president at Sojourner. “If needed, our Advocates can help prepare to present a case to the court and offer moral support. We also can participate in hearings by phone, if needed.”
Those who already filed for restraining orders and have a hearing date scheduled should show up to Milwaukee County Courthouse, Room 712, at their scheduled time, while advocates will attend by phone. Those who do not appear will have their orders dismissed, according to the statement from Sojourner.
Those in danger
Rodriguez also offered advice for those who might feel trapped in a violent situation:
- Find a safe place and time to call when the abuser is not listening, is outside or sleeping, she said. You can be creative when you call, be generic about what you’re looking for, and you don’t have to say you are a victim, she added.
- “If you don’t have transportation, don’t worry, we will come get you or assist you in finding a safe place for you and your children to go.”
- Those who are in immediate danger of physical violence should call 911, she said.
Domestic abuse resources
You can reach the UMOS Latina Resource Center at (414) 389-6500 or contact the 24-hour bilingual crisis line at (414) 389-6510.
You can reach the Sojourner Family Peace Center by calling its 24-hour hotline at (414) 933-2722. To get help filing a temporary restraining order online from Sojourner call (414) 278-5079 and leave a message that includes your full name and a safe call-back number.
Here is a comprehensive list of places you can find help for domestic violence.