Shelter from the Storm
MONDAY NEWSMAKER: PROTECTING THE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The Desert Sun: May 19, 2013–
Angelina Coe became executive director of Shelter from the Storm, a haven for victims of domestic violence, in October.
She has more than 17 years experience in the nonprofit sector working with individuals and families in crisis on both the East and West coasts. Coe began her career as the children’s services coordinator for a YWCA domestic violence program in New Jersey.
She holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the College of Saint Elizabeth in New Jersey, is a certified grant writer and holds the 40-hour domestic violence advocate certification.
(VIDEO: Angelina Coe talks about more about the mission of Shelter from the Storm)
QUESTION: According to your website, up to 3 million women nationwide are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend each year. Is the problem diminishing, getting worse or staying about the same? Is greater awareness helping?
ANSWER: Domestic violence does not discriminate; it crosses all socioeconomic classes. To state outright that the problem of domestic violence is diminishing, getting worse or staying about the same would be unfounded as there are not studies to suggest an increase or decrease.
There is factual evidence that domestic violence continues to impact our society, not only nationwide but also worldwide. Intimate partner domestic violence is still the leading cause of injury and death to women — more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined — even though laws have been enacted in the United States making domestic violence a crime.
Greater awareness is helping by continuing to provide support and encouragement to women experiencing abuse at the hand of their intimate partners. Studies show, awareness and widespread media coverage about domestic violence help de-stigmatize victims and have resulted in more women coming forward and wanting assistance to break the cycle of violence in their lives. Shelter from the Storm is committed to providing that continued awareness and support.
Rep. Raul Ruiz voted to renew the Violence Against Women Act early this year and later spoke to supporters of Shelter from the Storm. Tell us about that.
The Violence Against Women Act re-enactment was long overdue as it had expired 500 days prior to the approval vote. The act is a crucial bill that helps protect all victims of intimate partner domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and teen dating violence. It provides our local communities and law enforcement agencies the resources necessary to hold all perpetrators of domestic violence accountable.
Rep. Ruiz held a press conference at Shelter from the Storm on March 1 to discuss the bill and its impact in the Coachella Valley. During the press conference he showed his support of Shelter from the Storm and services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. He spoke about the next steps we all need to take to continue moving forward to ensure that all women are protected against all forms of violence, reminding everyone that we are all impacted by domestic violence in our community and that together we can make a difference.
Since Shelter from the Storm is the only comprehensive shelter-based domestic violence services provider in the Coachella Valley. It was an ideal location to hold the press conference and provide awareness of the importance of the Violence Against Women Act re-enactment. It allowed for increased awareness that services are available in our community. They are not alone, options do exists and laws are in place to help protect victims.
The recession and government budget cuts have harmed many efforts like Shelter from the Storm. Since the recovery has started, have you seen an increase in support?
The state of the nation’s economy has effected many nonprofit organizations including Shelter from the Storm resulting in cuts and staff reductions. Yet our commitment to our clients was not diminished, they continue to receive the highest quality of services and support.
The wonderful thing about the Coachella Valley and eastern Riverside County is how supportive the community has always been and continues to be. Their support continued on even when the economy was suffering. Yes, there was a decrease in the dollar amounts of donations, but the support never decreased. We are so grateful for our supporters and encourage them to continue to sustain our efforts to end the plight of domestic violence in the Coachella Valley.
How are children affected by domestic violence?
Children are the silent victims of domestic violence. Seventy-five percent of intimate partner domestic violence victims have children under the age of 18. Upward of 20 percent of children in the United States witness domestic violence in their homes annually and two-thirds of all domestic violence shelter residents are children.
The children raised in homes where domestic violence is part of the family dynamic are more likely to experience neglect or abuse. They are less likely to succeed at school, have poor problem-solving skills and are subject to higher incidents of emotional and behavioral problems as well as higher incidents of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These children are at higher risk of repeating the cycle of violence in their adult relationships, as violence becomes a normal part of their lives.
Shelter from the Storm services focus on the children and help them begin the healing process and learn non-violence responses to stressors as well as the skills to break the cycle of violence in their lives.
What can women do to protect themselves from becoming a victim?
Domestic violence by definition is an identifiable pattern of abusive behaviors of one partner to the other, intended to gain power and control through intimidation and fear.
Women can protect themselves by learning the warning signs they are in an abusive relationship. Some examples you are in an abusive relationship are: if your partner is extremely jealous, gets angry easily which escalates to physical violence, attempts to control you and isolates you from family and friends, displays cruelty to people and animals, refuses to consider your feelings and forces you to perform sexual acts against your will.
You have a right to say no and be respected by your partner. If you are afraid of your partner’s anger, you are not safe. Get help! Our crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in both English and Spanish, (760) 328-SAFE (7233).
Confidential help is available and you have a right to be and feel safe. To learn more about the services available to you from Shelter from the Storm, or ways you can help a loved one who is in an abuse relationship, visit our website at www.shelterfromthestorm.com. Together we can change lives one family at a time in the Coachella Valley.