BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — October is set aside as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In Kern County, that issue continues to be a problem that's been made worse by COVID-19.
Prevention advocates said as residents begin heading back to work, the stress of a return to normal can often build up, along with other roadblocks from the pandemic.
Lauren Skidmore recently replaced Louis Gill as CEO of Bethany Services, which oversees the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault and the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter.
She told 23ABC they've seen a rise in the number of domestic violence cases locally over the past few months. But, resources are available and the organization is ready to help anyone feeling they or a loved one is in danger.
“As a family member you have to be brave to have difficult discussions with those family members,” said Skidmore . “If you don't have those discussions you may not be offering a lifeline in the future. It only takes one moment, one scenario for something to happen and it's our duty as friends and family members to reach out and provide a support service and a support network for those individuals.”
Skidmore said they provide services to over 2,000 survivors each year. One way they help residents is through a 24/7 hotline that’s confidential and free to anyone who feels they or a loved one are in danger. That number to call is 661- 327-1091.
Along with violence prevention awareness, Skidmore told 23ABC they’re working to relocate the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter, after CA High Speed Rail purchased the property from them.
Skidmore said it's time to focus on building an updated facility for families to start fresh, along with a new daycare center.
They've funded programs through federal and state grants including COVID relief funds, but will be asking the public for their help in making the new location a reality.
“As far as the new shelter goes we will be looking for private donors,” said Skidmore. “We will be asking the community to come together and support as we build the new facility, but our support services are always funded through different funding sources.”
While the new center is a big goal moving forward, Skidmore says homeless outreach and prevention continues to be their top priority in Bakersfield and Kern county.
They're here to help anyone through a difficult situation, especially after the state eviction moratorium ended September 30th.