During the holiday season unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and the increased consumption of alcohol can raise stress levels, which can contribute to incidents of domestic violence. Add to that, conditions created by COVID-19 including social distancing, working remotely and job loss and the numbers rise even more.

“At Alameda Health System (AHS) we believe that everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship and we are committed to supporting our patients and members of our community who are victims of domestic violence,” said Sexual Assault Response and Recovery Team (SARRT) Program Specialist Dawn Cornell.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four women and one in seven men will experience physical violence by their intimate partner at some point during their lifetimes. About one in three women and nearly one in six men experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetimes.

The literature shows that as a result, victims of domestic violence are hesitant to reach out for help and reluctant to report it. Stay-at-home orders, intended to protect the public and prevent widespread infection, have left many domestic violence victims confined with their abusers.

Nationally, domestic-violence hotlines prepared for an increase in demand for services as states enforced these mandates, but many organizations experienced the opposite. Our SARRT program experienced the same reduced level of reported cases.

“We assume that folks are unable to call or are focused on other things and leaving an abusive partner may take a back seat to a job loss and childcare issues. For SARRT, calls dropped at the beginning of the pandemic, but numbers have since leveled out and we continue to support those in need of domestic violence care and services” she Cornell.

Based at Highland Hospital, SARRT, part of our Care Management Department, provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including counseling, advocacy and a 24-hour crisis line at 510-534-9290 to support providing intervention and counseling services.  SARRT services are confidential and available to all members of the community and AHS employees.

In addition, SARRT provides resources and tools for care providers and staff to deliver high-quality care to victims of domestic violence including training.

AHS has a longstanding commitment to the health and safety of our patients and to providing high-quality care and services to our most vulnerable populations.

“Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault need support and services in order to heal and that support may not be available from family or friends. SARRT provides these services in a nonjudgmental, trauma-informed framework”, said Cornell.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing violence there are steps that may help including creating a safety plan to outline ways to remain safe while you are in your current situation, planning to leave, or after you leave. You should practice self-care as much as possible and if it is safe, reach out for help and try to maintain social connections through phone calls, texts, emails, and social media platforms.

For more information about AHS domestic violence and sexual assault services, tools and resources contact SARRT at 510-534-9290 or email sarrtinfo@alamedahealthsystem.org.