October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States.
The topic has been highlighted in recent weeks by the case of Gabby Petito, whose body was found after she went missing on a trip to Grand Teton National Park with her boyfriend. During that trip, a witness in Utah called 911 for possible domestic violence after seeing the couple argue.
State law defines domestic violence as, "Abuse committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship," according to the California Department of Justice.
According to data from that office, there were 160,646 calls for help related to domestic violence in the state of California in 2020 alone.
Of those calls, 35,498 were within Los Angeles County, 10,890 were in Orange County, 8,456 were in San Bernardino County, 6,344 were in Riverside County and 6,162 were in Ventura County.
If you are in Southern California, and you or someone you know may need help, or if you would like to volunteer to help others, here are just a few of the local shelters and resources available.
Los Angeles County
The Child and Family Center has locations in Palmdale and Santa Clarita, and provides a 30 day crisis shelter, individual and group counseling and classes for individuals and children fleeing domestic violence. They have English and Spanish services, and their 24-hour crisis hotline number is 661-259-4357.
The Institute for Multicultural Counseling and Education Services "works with courts, probation departments, and shelters" to help prevent and respond to domestic violence. Their services include education, counseling and crisis intervention, and are available in Armenian, Russian, Farsi, Spanish, Tagalog and English.
IMCES also provides a wide range of other services unrelated to domestic violence, with locations in Los Angeles, Glendale and West Covina. They can be reached by phone at 213-381-1250.
The House of Ruth in Claremont provides emergency shelter, counseling, housing assistance, legal advocacy, child care and treatment programs for victims of domestic violence. Their services are available in English and Spanish, they are LGBTQ+ friendly, and their 24-hour toll-free hotline is 877-988-5559.
Interval House in Long Beach advertises itself as the first survivor-led program, and provides housing programs, counseling, legal assistance, education and specialized cultural programs for those fleeing domestic violence. Their website says they provide services "in over 70 different languages," and their hotlines are 562-594-4555 and 714-891-8121.
LA County's Department of Public Social Services also has an extensive list of more shelters and resources, including centers specializing in helping individuals of particular religions and ethnic or racial backgrounds. The list also includes ways to connect with free legal services.
The Women's Transitional Living Center provides "a comprehensive residential program, a children’s program, a crisis hotline, and a community services program" to "all victims of violence" in Orange County.
They are an LGBTQ+ safe zone, and their 24-hour helpline is 877-531-5522.
San Bernardino County
Option House in San Bernardino provides support groups, parenting classes, restraining order services, emergency crisis shelter, therapy and tips to educate yourself on the warning signs of abuse.
They also have special resources on elder abuse and resources for LGBTQ+ people. Their 24-hour crisis hotline is 909-381-3471, and provides help in English and Spanish.
Alternatives to Domestic Violence serves "all of western Riverside County," according to its website, and provides emergency housing, individual and group counseling, education on life skills and job training, child services and training for professionals to recognize the signs of domestic violence.
They also provide anger management treatment for perpetrators, and information about the warning signs of domestic violence. Their 24-hour hotlines are 951-683-0829 for those in the city "and out of county," or 800-339-7233 for the rest of Riverside County.
The Ventura County Family Justice Center is "a collaborative team from more than 40 public agencies and community-based organizations," that provides services to those dealing with domestic violence free of charge, according to its website. Among its services are emergency assistance, shelter and housing assistance, legal services, counseling and advocacy.
The center can be reached via phone call at 805-652-7655, or by text at 805-947-7981.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline listed by the United States Department of Justice is free and confidential. The number is 1-800-799-7233. They also have a texting option, available when you text "START" to 88788.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has tips for seeking help from law enforcement, tips for seeking legal assistance and tips for making a safety plan for dealing with abusers available on their website.