After Domestic Abuse Reports Rose in Pasadena, A New Team Was Formed to Help Victims

Published : Thursday, May 9, 2019 | 5:11 AM

Local domestic violence victims now have an all-encompassing team to turn to in trying times. The Pasadena Police Department Special Victims Unit and the nonprofit Peace Over Violence have formed the Domestic Abuse Response Team and there will be an informational meeting Thursday night at the Jackie Robinson Center.

The Domestic Abuse Response Team, or DART, is a team comprised of the Pasadena Police Department’s SVU led by Sgt. Carolyn Gordon, and the nonprofit Peace Over Violence, directed by Yvette Lozano.

Sexual assault and domestic violence tend to be thought of by the general public as similar crimes, but the crimes are different.

Where sexual assault can be isolated to one incident, domestic violence can be chronic, there is a level of familiarity between the perpetrator and the victim and it involves a partner, co-habitant or ex-partner. There is a relationship between chronic abuse and the victim’s reliance or dependency on the abuser, financially or emotionally. In turn, that often is the reason the abuser isn’t reported to the police.

In the event of a domestic abuse incident, the reporting to the police is augmented. That’s why a team of SVU police and the Peace Over Violence volunteers and workers each have a different role that goes beyond taking a report.

A Peace Over Violence advocate is assigned to the victim and together they will talk out the next moves, said Lozano of Peace Over Violence.

Typically, when a police officer responds to an incident, they will advise the victim of their right to a domestic violence advocate. The DART advocate can respond to a crime scene or the police connect the victim to Peace Over Violence at a later time.

“We’re there to provide support and advocacy, to help them understand the process, and offer follow up services,” Lozano said. “If you say ‘I want to go into a shelter,’ we would say, ‘Let’s call some shelters,’ then we would connect you to the shelter, make sure you have transportation to get to the shelter, then we would check in with you.”

Domestic violence can involve sexual assault but the two are rarely intertwined for many reasons, not the least of which is lack of reporting when sexual assault occurs in the home, said Sgt. Carolyn Gordon who oversees the Special Victims Unit.

“Domestic violence is about power,” she said. “It’s a pattern of behavior used to maintain power and control over another in a relationship. It can involve physical abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, coercion and threats, intimidation, isolation, minimizing, denying, blaming. And they can even use the children against the other partner. ”

Often, there is shame and embarrassment and the victims are frightened and worried about the future.

“There is a crisis intervention aspect and when someone has experienced that type of trauma we then take the time to listen to the survivor,” Lozano said. “We don’t come in asking what happened, our purpose is to be there as a support person and educate them about their rights and what their options are.”

Gordon says there has been an increase in the number of cases of domestic violence and that’s why she wants to get the conversation out in the open.

The Pasadena Police Department teams with Peace Over Violence so that if a victim does not feel comfortable revealing details or seeking services from the police, there is a support person they can feel comfortable with, who has expertise and won’t interrogate or judge them.

“They work out of our station one day a week and they are advocating for the victims and that’s what we want,” Gordon said. “We want to get the victims advocates, get them resources and try to help them so they don’t continue to stay in this violent situation.”

Learning new skills and developing oneself is a way out, Lozano said. Peace Over Violence helps the victims of domestic abuse find new coping methods, like taking yoga, joining art healing programs, and participating in a range of services like financial literacy, counseling and support groups.

There’s a 24-hour hotline to call anonymously that Peace Over Violence staffs with volunteers. The group is always looking for additional volunteers.

Many are too scared or too ashamed to come forward, but the more the topic is discussed the less stigma there will be, Gordon said.

“We want to stop domestic violence,” she said. “The most important thing is helping the victim. It could mean getting services not only for the victim but also for the children. And the offender may also need help, so let’s get help for him.”

“We have a common goal and that’s to help people,” Gordon said. “Peace Over Violence will advocate and they find resources. They talk to the victim in confidence. We don’t expect to get any information they give to Peace Over Violence and that’s important.”

Gordon said the team’s motto is: “Heal for Today, Shine for Tomorrow, Stop Domestic Violence.”

If you know anyone who may be suffering from domestic abuse or you are a victim you can call (626) 793-3385.

The Domestic Violence Reduction Project meeting is scheduled to be held Thursday, May 9 at 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Jackie Robinson Center at 1020 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena.

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