SafeNest CEO shares tips on helping kids who have experienced domestic violence

Posted at 7:42 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 22:42:39-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Metro is investigating its first domestic-related homicide of 2020, in which police say a preteen called 911 after hearing the shooting.

"We received a 911 call from a juvenile stating that their family member had been shot in an altercation involving another possible family member," said Metro Homicide Lieutenant Ray Spencer.

Spencer said that child - described as a preteen - did not witness the shooting, but heard it - still ensnarled in a kind of domestic violence.

"When a child hears gun shots and its related directly to their family that adverse childhood experience score only goes up and the trauma related to that can be huge," said Liz Ortenburger, CEO of SafeNest.

Ortenburger said that children who are exposed to violence - whether it be in their home or outside of it - are predisposed to what are known as adverse childhood experiences - which can lead to negative outcomes down the road.
Ortenburger said family members, educators and community members should be aware of changes in children's behavior.

"They're trying to deal with the onset of a massive amount of emotions that they are in no way capable of dealing with," said Ortenburger. "You may see kids withdraw or you may see kids do the exactly the opposite."

Ortenburger said what children who have experienced trauma need most is to be in positive environments with positive adult relationships.

"They're working on goals, they're working on multiple ways to reach goals, it's really all about what is this child working on to become a happy, fulfilled adult," said Ortenburger.

Ortenburger says these kinds of interventions can be life-changing for children.

Ortenburger estimated that last year alone, between 60,000 and 70,000 kids in Southern Nevada experienced some kind of domestic violence that resulted in a 911 call.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, know someone who is or would like to support SafeNest's work, call SafeNest's crisis hotline (702) 646-4981 or visit