Shelter from the Storm
The Desert Sun Editorial Board
MONDAY NEWSMAKE: LYNN MORIARTY HAS LED SHELTER FROM THE STORM FOR 15 YEARS
Palm Desert: April 18, 2011– Lynn Moriarty is executive director of Shelter from the Storm, the Coachella Valley's only dedicated provider of services to victims of domestic violence.
She has led the agency for 15 years, responsible for the management and operations of seven distinct program locations including a 72-bed emergency shelter. She has broadened Shelter from the Storm to include a medical clinic, a K-12 school, long-term transitional housing program, a community counseling center and outreach offices.
Moriarty oversees a staff of 30 domestic violence experts and 50 volunteers and serves as a mentor to the newly formed Sheltering Sisters Auxiliary.
Prior to coming to the desert, she worked in the San Fernando Valley first at Haven Hills shelter and later as the director of the Family Violence Project where she founded Tamar House battered women's shelter and Hope Cottage, the first long-term transitional housing program in the San Fernando Valley.
She has accumulated numerous awards, including the Athena Award, California State Legislature Woman of the Year and Sol Azteca's International's Hispanic Safe Harbor Award.
QUESTION: Shelter From The Storm is the Coachella Valley's only dedicated provider of emergency shelter and related services to victims of domestic violence. How did this mission come about?
ANSWER: The mission of Shelter from the Storm is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence professionally, ethically and compassionately.
Between the late 1960s and early 1980s, the women's movement identified the high prevalence of violence against women as a national disgrace. They vowed to bring services to victims and to advocate for awareness and social change.
In 1988, a group of concerned female and male Coachella Valley citizens came together to address the ever increasing incidents of domestic violence in this community. As a result, Shelter from the Storm was created as a nonprofit entity to bring safety and support to abused women and children. Five years later, our emergency shelter opened its doors and began its life-saving work.
Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. It appears abuse is even more widespread worldwide. Is domestic violence increasing or decreasing?
There is no empirical data to suggest that worldwide violence against women is either increasing or decreasing. Some experts believe that successful media campaigns to de-stigmatize the victims have resulted in many more women demonstrating a willingness to come foreward.
We do have plenty of evidence that, globally, atrocities against women are routinely committed and are even encouraged in some cultures. It is also clear that domestic violence remains the leading cause of death and serious injury to women despite the fact that almost all westernized countries have enacted laws making domestic violence a crime.
Does your programming include children of victims?
It is a little known fact that two-thirds of all residents of domestic violence shelters are children. Tragically, even though their mothers are the primary targets, a startling 70 percent of these innocents will themselves have been abused.
One of the ways that we ensure the safety of our child residents is to provide two on-site schools at the emergency shelter — a Head Start-modeled preschool and a K-12 school for older children. Both are staffed by credentialed teachers.
Like their mothers, the children suffer the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to anxiety, depression, fear, inability to concentrate, sleeplessness and re-experiencing trauma, to name a few. Violence has become their norm.
Helping the children to heal and teaching them non-violent coping skills is an important part of what we do.
How have state budget cuts affected the problem?
While economic stressors do not cause domestic violence, if violence is already present in a relationship, it is often exacerbated by financial problems.
Last year, the governor cut 100 percent of state funding for California's domestic violence shelters, forcing some to shutter their doors. For Shelter from the Storm, this meant losing seven staff and $250,000 in one afternoon, 25 percent of the emergency shelter's budget. Were it not for our compassionate and generous community, particularly the Desert Healthcare District, it is unclear whether the shelter would be here today.
As I write this, we are holding our collective breath in anticipation of this year's budget cuts.
What can you do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim?
Believe that you have the right to respectful, non-threatening behavior. from your partner. Believe that you have the right to say no. Ask yourself if you are afraid of a partner's anger. If the answer is yes, you are not safe.
You are already in an abusive relationship if your partner is extremely jealous; gets angry very fast, very violently and very often; breaks things or punches walls; forces you to perform sexual acts against your will; attempts to control your life, where you live, how you spend your time, how you dress, whom you see and how you spend your money; has a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality; displays cruelty. ; to people and to animals; and refuses to consider your feelings.
Never forget that if he's hit you once, he'll hit you again. Get help.
Shelter From The Storm is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
73-555 Alessandro Drive, Suite D, Palm Desert, CA 92260. (760) 674-0400.
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