LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and advocates say the problem is much worse than it was before the pandemic.
Liz Ortenburger, CEO of SafeNest, said domestic violence spiked when Nevada was ordered to stay home due to the pandemic. Now, a year later with Las Vegas back open, she says the problem has not improved.
“We went through different peaks and valleys of different call volumes related to what was happening within the community. What we’ve seen overall is we’re at a sustained 20% higher than pre-pandemic for call volume, requests for shelter, and requests for services overall,” Ortenburger said.
Ortenburger says things like pandemic stress and financial problems are fuel to the fire for people who are prone to violence.
SafeNest has had such a high level of calls, it no longer has enough room for everyone in the shelter.
“We’ve been operating at maximum capacity at our main campus, we’ve expanded into hotel rooms and into apartments to meet the need. It really has changed the trajectory of what we need to provide as an agency”
Ortenburger says with limited resources, they can only take people into their shelter if their life is at risk.
To serve more people and fill the current gap in services, SafeNest wants to build a $40 million facility. It would have 90 rooms, more than 300 beds, and full wraparound services for all victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and sex trafficking.
The nonprofit is calling on state and local leaders to help with the funding.
If you are a victim of violence in your home or if you believe someone in your family may be the person responsible for the violence, you can call the 24-hour SafeNest hotline at 702-646-4981. A trained advocate will answer, listen, and help you find the resources you need.