Staying home right now is hard for everyone. But it’s especially hard for those who aren’t in a safe environment.

In this virtual chat, Tanesha Ash-Shakoor of Voices of Color talks about resources and services available to help those dealing with domestic violence.

Learn more: voicesofcolor.org

Transcript:

Julie: Welcome to our Facebook live Series called Expert Connexions. I’m Julie Holton, I’m the Founder and Principal Strategist of mConnexions Marketing Agency. We have been working to connect you to the resources and information to help you and your business as we all navigate through this COVID nineteen pandemic and so that’s what this Expert Connexions series is all about. Today we’re going to turn our focus to nonprofits and to individuals in need specifically to resources that help with domestic violence. I’m so glad to welcome on to our live here, Tanesha see if it’ll let me welcome you on Tanesha. There we go.

Tanesha: Hi Julie.

Julie: Tanesha Ash-Shakoor is the Founder of the nonprofit Voices of Color and she is also the director here in Michigan for the statewide rally to raise awareness for domestic violence. So Tanesha thank you so much for joining us today.

Tanesha: Thank you Julie for having me.

Julie: Yeah so I want to dive right in because I know that we are all sheltering in place right now for the governor’s executive order here in Michigan and in many other states and I know that for many sheltering in place at home is not the safe place to be and so we want to make sure that we are not leaving out those who need resources and also connecting our viewers who might be able to help provide some much-needed resources. so first Tanesha I want to ask, how has this COVID19 pandemic affected domestic violence?

Tanesha: Well I think first thing we need to acknowledge is that we know the abusers have already had their ways of isolating victims and so once the sheltering in place was mandated and we were asked to stay home we’re talking about another form of just self-isolation and with that your consisting of putting both victims and survivors in another in a situation where they’re in the home with their abusers and all those resources that were accessible to them or their outlet you know if they had a safety plan in place where they were able to leave home and the plan made consisted of them going to work or going to a friend’s house or family members, those things were they were sort of taken away in a sense when you consider what were their exit plans. So maybe they’re extra plans now will have to be redeveloped or what are those look like now considering that also in the homes that you’re going to see me are started probably have seen the mental health capacities of homes in terms of stress. Whether it’s because of finances or unemployment, a lot of people are out of work. Now they’re sitting in a home which tensions are rising. So the abuse we will see an increase in that for sure if there hasn’t already been an increase whether it’s being reported or not. Also knowing that these services that are being provided by nonprofits whether it is enough profit that self-organized or a shelter that’s receiving grant funding all these are systems that were in place were for direct care services and now with social distancing you won’t have the direct care. So it is affecting the way shelters and profit organizations are being able to have access to victims and survivors even those who are maybe more isolated. You have to consider what does that look like because they need to get to them or they need to do intakes and a lot of those things were face to face for obvious reasons. So I think right now with COVID19 many people are not sure what resources are available to them. If they are a victim and a survivor right now they don’t know what their options are because abusers may be telling them hey you know I can give you the virus and I won’t get you help or you’re in here and no there’s nowhere for you to go and so it is important for the understand that those resources are out there, but it may look different now.

Julie: Okay and we’re going to provide a whole list of these resources and we will make sure that we add them to the comments so that these resources are readily available. Tanesha can you talk about I know so your organization Voices of Color really works as a hub so to speak of helping to connect people to the various resources in the community and these resources might be like you mentioned the mental health resources, it might be connecting them to legal resources, and also to shelters that can provide whether that be you know a temporary home environment or much-needed supplies and things like that. So how has COVID19 impacted those shelters?

Tanesha: So right now it has been the shelters are definitely trying to figure out. I have to the shelter’s. Right now we are hosting calls every Friday to talk about what shelters are doing. They are definitely one it has allowed others to come together to figure out this to figure it all out together. Right now the local organizations and shelters, in particular, are still operating as essential workers they are still on the frontline right now. So there’s still people they are still accepting people in the shelter’s whether you know a lot of people may not have known that. I think it’s important for people to understand that these shelters are open. If you are a victim or survivor of domestic violence, sexual abuse, sexual assault, that shelters are there for you. They are still completing intakes right now, so you can still call and get the resources that you need. The shelter teams are also available by phone. They have hotlines that are available that you can call into and they also have anonymous chats that you can easily exit out of and there’s no trace or documentation that you were there in case you are not in a safe situation. So if maybe you’re not looking to go into a shelter, but need an advocate you can still contact the shelter and they are willing to get you an advocate, to get you resources that you may need. I think the other important part Julie is that with COVID 19 we know that we’re being quarantined. So one of the questions that we discussed last week on the call was what our shelters doing if someone comes knocks at their door and they’re they have been abused and they need help, but they test positive for COVID19. Shelters are accepting individuals because of whether you’ve been abused, sexually assaulted, you can still go to a shelter if you have tested positive for COVID 19. Please understand with that shelters are still under a mandate to protect individuals and children who are in that shelter as well. So that is or will be certain criteria or mandates by the shelters to quarantine or to provide a safe place for those individuals who still but still have access to the resources.

Julie: Okay so that is really huge. I’m going to repeat that again Tanesha because what you just said is that even if you test positive for COVID19 even if you are sick right now there is still help available, there are still resources, you still have access to shelters, and anything else that you might need and I think that is so important to repeat and so incredible Tanesha that our nonprofits in the area, our shelters, are still working right now to be able to continue to provide that support. What do our shelters need? How can we help support them? How can we support those workers?

Tanesha: So right now from speaking with different shelters some of the same necessities that hospitals are plenty because shelters are being forgot about even through legislation, nobody is considering the shelters and the procedures that they may have to go to through to keep the people of their housing safe. So cleaning disinfectant products, masks for sure and the mask that the CDC recommends and not just fabric masks. Gloves, the monitors are so important right now because I know shelters because we haven’t remembered it’s some individuals that are in the shelters still have to go to work. Some of the individual in these shelters are still considered essential workers and they’re going in and out of the shelters and if shelters don’t have control over that aspect because they still have to go to work. So they are at least trying to check their temperatures. So thermometers are an asset right now in the shelters and making sure that they have the covers for those. One of the biggest things is right now a lot of hotels or universities may be housing police officers or health care workers that have been tested positive for COVID19 however there is nowhere for victims and survivors to go once these shelters meet capacity. There is a huge concern and has always been a huge concern that I think local businesses, hotels, landlords, if you have space readily available, this is the time to offer this space to shelters for victims and survivors so they have somewhere to also house those individuals who have nowhere else to go. So if you are a person that has access or are willing to do that please reach out because that is huge and that’s not just with COVID19 that’s something that is ongoing.

Julie: What a beautiful idea. Those that have space reach out and offer that space and of course they can connect with you Tanesha and you can help coordinate that. Thank you we have a comment here a question from Stephanie. Stephanie says Tanesha if we suspect or if we know someone is experiencing domestic abuse, what steps should we take especially now if we cannot safely see that person or connect in person?

Tanesha: If you suspect, my sincere advice with that is it’s hard to say – it’s hard to put out there that you have to be just an open door when that person is ready. I don’t know what the relationship is. If there’s a conference call for you to be able to ask that question in a private manner that they will trust you. You will have to determine that space however I must say that with someone who I’m a survivor myself and I know that person is ready to leave you can only be there as a resource and a guard for them. So until they’re actually ready to leave, let them know that there’s an open door policy and that when they’re ready there’s resources available and those resources can be provided to them and I hope that I’m answering your question because it is a sticky situation and something you have to consider when there are security issues and because I don’t know all the circumstances in the situation is a little bit harder to give so many details, reasoning’s, or solutions to that but just depending on your relationship with that person. If you can even ask that in a safe way and if not you can always provide them with the resources, my information of the resources that will be made available to them today to reach out.

Julie: And Tanesha you shared so beautifully your story with us. So we also have a podcast think-tank of three and it really focuses on women collaborating, sharing personally and professionally women entrepreneurs, and so if you want to hear Tanesha’s story that would go to think-tank of three.com Very beautiful story and Tanesha one of the things that you share during that interview was that one of the best ways we can help when we suspect that someone is dealing with domestic violence is to offer our love and our support and continue to reach out and connect and so Stephanie perhaps especially if they’re not in a position right now to be able to communicate freely about that just continuing to be in touch, continuing to be a resource for that person, especially now Tanesha you and I were talking beforehand and you know here we are running businesses, running nonprofits, we’re you know solving the world’s problems right or we like to think right, but we’re also humans and at the end of the day, one of the things that I hear you saying that has been a theme all day long and all throughout this series is connection, collaborate, and working to support one another and certainly tying this back into domestic violence and into this beautiful cause that you support as a survivor and a thriver of this that certainly we need that collaboration right now. I love to hear that some of these organizations are really working together and I know you do even outside of a pandemic, but they’re simply calls that sound like they’ve been really beneficial. So I want to highlight again just because I don’t think we can say it too much. Some of the ways that those who are watching can help support these organizations and it’s some of the supplies that they need to connect with Tanesha. If you’re able to help provide anything from masks to you know cleaning, you know all of those things all of the and all of the items that the shelter is typically asked for and check out their Facebook pages, check out their websites, they have lists and calls to action the things that they’re looking for right now and if you have the ability to donate that would really be incredible right now.

Tanesha: Yes, and Julie and if Stephanie is still listening, I encourage her to she can reach out to me on Facebook and we can talk more and this other weekend try to assist her or assistive individual she may be referencing and see where we can go don’t want to leave her without a solution. So feel free to reach out Stephanie and we can definitely collaborate with myself, other organizations to get help if that is the case.

Julie: Perfect so the best way to get a hold of you I know we can contact you through Facebook let’s talk Tanesha. Can you tell us some of the resources available if others I know often you know often this is certainly a very sensitive topic and a sensitive cause and we certainly understand we have people watching who may not want to comment or may not want to like the post and certainly we appreciate that and we understand and confidentiality is very important security is obviously of utmost importance. So what resources are there for people that need some help or want to connect someone to your help?

Tanesha: So I’ll start out with my organization which is Voices of Color. I am located in the Lansing Michigan area but I am basically located all over. I’m willing to help in any location. You can go to my Facebook page it is the Voices of Color so if you www.facebook.com/voicesofcolor you can find a lot of resources on that page especially today I have listed the different sculpture just locally and within the state of Michigan that you can reach out to as well and also about the domestic violence rally that we post on October 1st of every year you can join that page and also get resources which is www.facebook.com/midvrally so that is MI DV rally and if you have something private that you want to share with in that rally page we have a private route that is attached and said advocates I’m here for you. You can also share there if you will like, you can inbox us messages. My email as well is [email protected] [email protected] So you can get resources there. So I handle a lot of things on my end but there’s also another organization as an initiative Nicole who’s also a survivor and what I love about these organizations is Julie is that everybody who’s a part of them are and who are thriving and doing this work now so we have not only just book knowledge but first-hand knowledge for ourselves. So what it’s like to have going through traumatic situations and so the enough initiative. I want to reference the enough initiative which is in Ypsilanti. Nicole Beverly, really phenomenal woman. If you have not heard her story it’s all over YouTube. Please she is a huge asset and can also provide resource and help you can find her page on Facebook as well at www.facebook.com/preventdv and it is called enough initiative Nicole Beverly. So as it relates Julie to local shelters that are working together doing this pandemic to provide safe shelter for individuals to provide advocates and these individuals may need I want to give a you know Eve’s house or Eve has huge collaborator with me. They are phenomenal in the work and in transitioning. We just had a situation in March where I needed to get help for someone and they were on it and it was during a pandemic and they were able to get her the resources and advocate we I mean this was in a 24-hour period and they just won my heart so eve is end violent encounters. That is in Lansing Michigan. The information.

Julie: Amazing team over there absolutely.

Tanesha: Airy and Sam stout and Leah oh my gosh I just love them. I’ve loved working with them. So eve, definitely reach out to Eve their information is on my page. Msu safe place. Msu safe place in east Lansing, Catherine cups safe house that’s Catherine cop safe house that’s in Adrian Michigan. The safe Center, the safe centers in Owosso Michigan. Safe house Center this is a different location, safe house Center in Arbor Michigan. The YWCA is in Detroit Michigan and is important that understand the YWCA because there’s only one shelter in Detroit. If you’re listening this is a huge problem. There’s only one shelter in Detroit Michigan that is a huge problem we need to fix that. So the YWCA is the location as you can reach out to right now and we also have a Capital Area response effort which is part with the Lansing Police Department. They will respond after the assailant has been arrested. So they are also in Lansing Michigan. So there are a lot of resources and again their information is on my Facebook page Voices of Color which you can find on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thevoicesofcolor.

Julie: So many passionate people Tanesha including you that are prepared to provide support and resources. Thank you again so much for sharing this information today.

Tanesha: Thank you Julie for giving us the space to have the conversation to bring some things to the forefront and to not forget that domestic violence workers and advocates there on the front line as well. They’re having to be healthcare providers, nurses and everything up there because they’re having to play all the roles right now.

Julie: And the important thing for our audience today you can help if you have the ability to. Donations are being accepted of supplies and also if you need the help, shelters are still open even if you have tested positive for COVID19, you still have a safe place to go. So Tanesha thank you so much for sharing this information. Okay, you guys please feel free to connect directly with Tanesha, connect with Voices of Color and let us know if you need any assistance. If there is more information that we can help provide to you Tanesha, we’ll be happy to do that. This wraps up our interview series for today. We have one final interview coming up in our series on Saturday and we know that we have shared a lot of really important information about the very serious nature of dealing with the coronavirus and dealing with this COVID19 pandemic and we will continue to provide information as it’s needed for our business community and for a nonprofit community. On Saturday we’re going to present a little bit of a twist because we know that even with all of the seriousness and the heaviness of what’s happening we also need to find ways to connect with one another and we have found some folks in the area and out of the area actually some folks across the country who are finding some really unique and creative ways to connect and stay connected and so on Saturday we’re going to bring them to you live. We are going to show you some videos someone pictures and hear from them in ways that they are staying connected during this time. So we hope you can join us for that and please if you have ideas, if you’re seeing fun things if you were involved in something cool that is helping with communication and helping others, we want to hear about it. So let us know drop us a direct message, shoot me an email, [email protected] and then join us on Saturday at three o’clock Eastern. Thanks everyone we will see you then.