DVAM Series

Emerge Staff Share Their Stories

This week, Emerge features the stories of staff working in our Shelter, Housing, and Men’s Education programs. During the pandemic, individuals experiencing abuse at the hands of their intimate partner have often struggled to reach out for help, due to increased isolation. While the whole world had to lock their doors, some have been locked in with an abusive partner. Emergency shelter for domestic abuse survivors is offered to those who have experienced recent incidents of serious violence. The Shelter team had to adapt to the realities of not being able to spend time with participants in person to talk with them, reassure them and provide the love and support they deserve. The sense of loneliness and fear that survivors experienced was exacerbated by the forced isolation due to the pandemic. Staff spent many hours on the phone with participants and ensured that they knew the team was there. Shannon details her experience serving participants who lived in Emerge’s shelter program during the last 18 months and highlights lessons learned. 
In our housing program, Corinna shares the complexities of supporting participants in finding housing during a pandemic and a significant affordable housing shortage. Seemingly overnight, the progress that participants made in setting up their housing disappeared. Loss of income and employment was reminiscent of where many families found themselves when living with abuse. The Housing Services team pressed on and supported families facing this new challenge in their journey to find safety and stability.  Despite the barriers that participants experienced, Corinna also recognizes the amazing ways our community comes together to support families and the determination of our participants in seeking a life free from abuse for themselves and their children.
Finally, Men’s Engagement Supervisor Xavi talks about the impact on the MEP participants, and how difficult it was to use virtual platforms to make meaningful connections with men engaged in behavior changes. Working with men who are harming their families is high-stakes work, and requires intention and the ability to connect with men in meaningful ways. This type of relationship requires ongoing contact and trust-building that was undermined by the delivery of programming virtually. The Men’s Education team quickly adapted and added individual check-in meetings and created more accessibility to MEP team members, so that men in the program had additional layers of support in their life as they also navigated the impact and the risk that the pandemic created for their partners and children.

DVAM Series: Honoring Staff

Community-Based Services

This week, Emerge features the stories of our lay legal advocates. Emerge’s lay legal program provides support to participants engaged in the civil and criminal justice systems in Pima County due to incidents related to domestic abuse. One of the greatest impacts of abuse and violence is the resulting involvement in various court processes and systems. This experience can feel overwhelming and confusing while survivors are also trying to find safety after abuse. 
The services that the Emerge lay legal team provides include requesting orders of protection and providing referrals to lawyers, assistance with immigration assistance, and court accompaniment.
Emerge staff Jesica and Yazmin share their perspectives and experiences supporting participants engaged in the legal system during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, access to court systems was greatly limited for many survivors. Delayed court proceedings and limited access to court personnel and information had a great impact on many families. This impact exacerbated the isolation and fear that survivors were already experiencing, leaving them worried about their future.
The lay legal team demonstrated enormous creativity, innovation, and love for survivors in our community by ensuring that participants didn’t feel alone when navigating legal and court systems. They quickly adapted to providing support during court hearings via Zoom and telephone, remained connected to court personnel to ensure that survivors still had access to information, and provided the ability for survivors to actively participate and regain a sense of control. Even though Emerge staff experienced their own struggles during the pandemic, we are so grateful to them for continuing to prioritize the needs of participants.

Honoring Staff—Child and Family Services

Child and Family Services

This week, Emerge honors all the staff who work with children and families at Emerge. The children coming into our Emergency Shelter program were faced with managing the transition of leaving their homes where violence was happening and moving into an unfamiliar living environment and the climate of fear that has permeated this time during the pandemic. This abrupt change in their lives was only made more challenging by the physical isolation of not interacting with others in person and was undoubtedly confusing and scary.

Children living at Emerge already and those receiving services at our Community-Based sites experienced an abrupt shift in their in-person access to staff. Layered onto what the children were managing, families were also forced to figure out how to support their children with schooling at home. Parents who were already overwhelmed with sorting out the impact of the violence and abuse in their lives, many of whom were also working, simply did not have the resources and access to homeschooling while living in a shelter.

The Child and Family team sprang into action and quickly ensured that all children had the necessary equipment to attend school online and provided weekly support to students while also quickly adapting programming to be facilitated via zoom. We know that delivering age-appropriate support services to children who have witnessed or experienced abuse is crucial to healing the whole family. Emerge staff Blanca and MJ talk about their experience serving children during the pandemic and the difficulties of engaging children via virtual platforms, their lessons learned over the last 18 months, and their hopes for a post-pandemic community.