Advocates supporting survivors of domestic abuse welcome the Dallas Police Department’s new plan to invest additional resources into combatting domestic violence.
Monday, Dallas Chief of Police Eddie Garcia rolled out a plan to add additional detectives to the domestic violence unit and resume with home visits to check on victims and offenders.
"Most people don't understand how difficult it can be, first of all, to even just take that first step. 'Where am I going to go? What am I going to do? How exactly am I going to get out of this home?'” Sarah Nejdl, founder of the nonprofit Families to Freedom, said.
She said her group averages more than 300 trips a year, helping families with car rides, gas cards, bus and plane tickets.
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“We do whatever it takes to help her get away,” she said.
Nedjl said that the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional barriers. On Monday she learned a shelter is closing to new admissions for two weeks due to a COVID-19 case.
“I talk to the shelter director, ‘Hey, we've got a lady, she really needs safety. And the director said we can't take anybody we've got an outbreak of COVID,” Nejdl said.
She also explained that some shelters outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area require guests to wear masks and be vaccinated or show proof of a negative test. Nejdl said one woman was turned away because she was unvaccinated.
It took a little longer, but she said Families to Freedom found placements for both women.
Nejd said she is glad to hear Dallas police plan to step up efforts to fight domestic violence.
“I want to see officers out in the community so that victims feel safe to reach out for help,” she said.
She said she expected it could lead to more calls and said they'll need more volunteers, especially drivers.
The nonprofit had 34 trips in September and has had eight so far in October.
On Monday, a staff member notified a woman that a driver was on the way to meet her at a safe place.
“We're going to give you a suitcase to pack that stuff up,” a Families to Freedom staff member shared over the phone.
Nejdl said she hoped additional police efforts would lead to more moments like this, where people get the help they need to escape dangerous situations.
“The best part about this job is hearing back from survivors who say, 'If it were not for you, I don't know how I would have escaped,'” she said.
Nejdl encouraged anyone who needs help to reach out to a social service agency. She said there are shelter beds available and groups prepared to assist with transportation, legal services, and more needs.
If you or someone you know needs help, the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233).