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San Angelo’s Family Shelter is adapting to Covid-19 while domestic violence is on the rise.

While October didn’t get the usual celebration as domestic violence awareness month this year, it’s more important than ever to check on loved ones and neighbors.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — While the world is focused on Covid-19 and the 2020 Election, issues such as domestic violence can fall behind. Many people might think that domestic violence doesn’t occur in their hometown, but San Angelo’s Family Shelter director Carol Salazar has numbers that say otherwise. She said last year they had “140 new residents come through the shelter door, and we had 176 non-residents, which they don’t stay here but they still receive our services. . .We provided almost over 7,000 services to these victims.” Just a few of the services they offer victims include safety planning, shelter, financial advising, legal help, and so much more. Every service is free to victims and catered to their individual needs.

The Family Shelter serves fifteen counties around Tom Green County with two outreach coordinators, a licensed professional counselor, a case manager, and a children’s coordinator on staff. The locked building has multiple cameras inside and outside to protect everyone inside. Salazar also said they will transfer victims to other shelters if their safety is at risk.

Salazar said while the San Angelo Police Department has reported more domestic violence calls, the shelter, unfortunately, hasn’t seen a rise in victims asking for help. She said either people don’t want to have to quarantine or are afraid of Covid-19 and choose to stay in their current situation. However, Salazar is encouraging those victims to still reach out and to receive help over the phone or zoom.

Domestic violence is more than just physical abuse. It can be sexual, financial, verbal, gas lighting, and dating violence. It happens to people in all walks of life regardless of their race, sexuality, gender, age, or economic status. It does not discriminate. Salazar said if someone suspects their loved one is experiencing domestic violence, it is important to talk to them and let them know they are there for them no matter what. She said victims experience a lot of victim blaming as well, which can discourage them from reaching out. She said no one should every blame the victim for angering their abuser or not leaving earlier because no one knows what that victim has gone through. Salazar said many victims are scared for their lives or their family’s lives and feel trapped. As a community, it is important to give those victims support instead of ridicule to ensure steps can be taken towards a safer city.