The Crisis Center: “Our first goal is to help our clients survive one more night”

At two in the morning another victim of domestic violence has arrived at the Crisis Center of Northern New Mexico.

It’s an emergency. Her life is in danger and she needs to escape.

Ramon Garcia, the Executive Director the Crisis Center, said, “The primary goal of the Crisis Center is to rescue victims who are in an emergency. We are here to help moms be safe. So they can survive one more night. After that, our goal is to give them options so that they can live a life free of domestic violence.”

Two Things Need to Happen for a Woman to Escape

According to Garcia, in order for a woman to leave she needs to understand that her life is in danger and know that she has support outside of the relationship.

Countless women stay in abusive relationships, even if there is a lot of physical violence, because they are isolated and don’t know that they have support.

“Perpetrators are savvy and make them believe that he is the only source of support in her life,” said Garcia. “She will be brainwashed into believing she can’t do anything without him. Perpetrators will minimize the role of other people who might help so the women truly believe that there is nowhere to go.”

The Crisis Center Provides Support in Several Ways

●       Housing. The “Rapid Rehousing Assistance Program” provides rent assistance for up to 11 months.

●       Legal Assistance.

●       Job placement. Job placement services are available so that survivors can quickly find employment in a safe place.

●       Counselling. The counselling is available all the members of the family.

●       Emergency Shelter. 24-hour shelter care for Victims and their children.

The biggest danger for survivors is going back

“There is a statistic that says that once a survivor leaves for the first time, they will go back seven times before they leave for good,” said Garcia who added that victims run the risk of being killed during those return visits. He said, “The murder rate goes up in rural areas because of the geographic isolation.”   

The most dangerous time for a survivor of domestic violence is when the kids visit, and they make the exchange.

The relationship between the kids and their father can be problematic. The mother has come to get help from the shelter but very soon starts to feel pressure from the kids when they ask questions like “Why are we here?” and “Where’s Dad?”

The kids understand that dad is doing bad things to mom, but they still love him and want to see him.

Meanwhile, the perpetrator will send messages like, “I just want to see the kids,” and “The only thing that matters to me is the kids.”

The Crisis Center advises mothers to make the exchange at a safe location such as a police station. But still, when she gets there, he will often manipulate her into coming back with promises of how good life will be. Garcia said, “Plus, they are not shy about pointing out that he makes more money and the kids are suffering because she left.”

Court Ordered Counselling for Perpetrators

When perpetrators of domestic violence go to court, they are often ordered to go through counselling and the Crisis Center provides that.

Garcia offered some insights into the mindset of an abuser.

“Often their tactics seem so calculating, but it happens unconsciously. It comes from people who have experienced their own trauma and feel good about themselves when they gain control over someone else. One underlying trait of abusers is blaming other people for everything. They believe the survivor is punishing them, or the judge didn’t like them. They may think, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. I was just trying to protect her or teach her a lesson.’ They want to be the man of the house and think, ‘I provided for that person and now they need to do exactly what I say’. But the thing is, you can be mad, but you can always choose not to beat someone.”

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of success stories following counselling for abusers. You can’t wait for an abuser to change. The most important thing is for the abused person to leave because perpetrators of domestic violence don’t stop.

When you support the United Way of Northern New Mexico, you support The Crisis Center and other organizations that serve Los Alamos and Rio Arriba County. Click here to donate.