On Monday, 150th District Court Judge Monique Diaz hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with members of the Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence.
Diaz’s panelists were San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, Bexar County First Assistant District Attorney Philip Kazen, and Marta Pelaez, CEO and president of Family Violence Prevention Services.
Diaz, who hopes to bring awareness about family violence prevention during the COVID-19 crisis, said that violence often increases during times of stress, and that many people are currently staying home because of the spread of the coronavirus. “Unfortunately, home is not a safe place for all of us,” she said at the top of the presentation, which is available to view on Facebook. “Family and friends who are living at home in violent situations need all of us to stay more engaged now more than ever, even while we are physically separated, to provide support and to ensure that isolation does not turn tragic.”
“If you know of someone who has had abuse in her life, [or] at this time, please check with them,” said Pelaez. “Make sure that they know [you] are available in case of need.” She added that anyone who is currently in an abusive relationship should have an exit plan. This plan should be shared with trusted individuals. “Create a coded message with those people to let them know, safely, that you need help. [And] do practice leaving the house,” she advised. “Practice makes perfect.”
SAPD has a Crisis Response Team made up of police officers and caseworkers assigned to each substation. Though some services are by phone, McManus took the opportunity to assure the public that his department is continuing to keep people safe throughout the city. “Even though the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are still answering calls for service,” he said.
Kazen said that the protective order process has changed in a way that he believes makes it easier for individuals who have decided to move forward with the procedure to protect themselves and their family during the current health crisis. “[These] processes are still open and still available to the public and we encourage anyone who is experiencing domestic violence to take advantage of the resources that are still being offered to the public at the Family Justice Center,” he said.
Here are three things to keep in mind if someone is experiencing domestic violence now or feels that they may soon become a victim of domestic violence:
If you feel your life is in danger, call 911.
If you need to make a plan to leave or you suspect abuse, call 210-207-SAPD.
Family Violence Protection Services Shelter can be reached by calling 210-733-8810.
Watch the informative discussion here.
Jade Esteban Estrada is a staff writer at the San Antonio Sentinel, where he covers public health and other citywide issues. He can be reached at email@example.com.