Assistance Comes to Domestic Violence Victims Amid Covid-19 Outbreak

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and volunteers from Jenesse Center Inc. and the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles distributed boxed lunches to families who have fled domestic violence during COVID-19. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Los Angeles County

Confronting the coronavirus outbreak has been an undertaking of enormous scale and impact. Amid the pandemic, among those most affected are people experiencing violence from an intimate partner. Recently, Los Angeles County received a multi-million-dollar donation from world-renowned musical artist Rihanna and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to help domestic violence survivors. The Jenesse Center is one of four domestic violence service providers designated to receive this grant. This week, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in conjunction with the Jenesse Center, Inc., the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles (YWCA GLA) and Delta Airlines Sky Club helped to distribute boxed lunches to families who have fled domestic violence.

“We understand the limitations of adequate resources during COVID-19. Lives have been lost, the economy is in shambles and daily routines have been severely disrupted,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We understand that many things have been overlooked, but we are making sure that domestic violence victims are not forgotten. We must do our part to assist those who need it the most.”

Through Delta Airlines Sky Club’s generous donation, Jenesse Center and YWCA GLA are able to distribute 100 freshly prepared boxed lunches each week.

As a young girl hid behind her mother, reluctant to speak, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas gently coaxed her to come forward. Slowly overcoming her fear, she delighted in the lunch selection laid out in front of her and confidently selected a turkey sandwich. “I am thankful for programs like this,” her mother said. “Without the help of this organization, I am not sure what my daughter and I would do.”

Established more than a century ago, the YWCA GLA has pioneered a model of community centers and housing – co-created with diverse stakeholders – to transform lives, build self-reliance and, ultimately, strengthen communities. “We must continue to operate through these most challenging of times. The programs we operate were essential before this pandemic, and while we have had to adjust our operations, these services remain essential to the people of South Los Angeles,” Said Sharon Shelton, Vice President of Empowerment Services for the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, this is not the first connection between natural disasters and domestic violence. Research suggests that natural disasters lead to an increased rate of violence among households that experience financial hardships. With the implementation of social distancing measures and an increase in unemployment, a combination of stress, and isolation, and worries over finances has contributed to an increase in rates.

In February of last year, the Board of Supervisors approved Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’s motion to establish the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Child and Family Wellbeing Center (Center) project. Projected to open in early 2021, this three-story, 55,000 square foot building will house a Family Justice Center where County and community-based organizations that will offer coordinated services to victims of family violence. The center will serve as a one-stop shop to provide health, mental health, housing, legal, childcare, workforce development, and support services to individuals and families who have witnessed or experienced family violence.

If you, or anyone you know, may be experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Highly trained expert advocates are available to talk confidentially 24/7 in more than 200 languages. If you’re unable to speak safely, you can text LOVEIS to 22522.