By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- Despite all the national awareness ads, domestic violence is still a major problem inside homes in the Basin. Safe Place is a shelter located in an undisclosed part of Midland. They allow victims to stay at their facility for up to three months. They also offer services for people that don't need to move-in but who want help with counseling and legal aid. Those non-resident cases are increasing.
Hazel Velarde has worked as a receptionist at Safe Place for many years. She says, "It's heart-breaking you know. You can't help but feel their pain."
Arguably the most alarming new trend Safe Place has seen has to do with the types of physical abuse cases walking through their doors.
Program Director, Tonya Eckert, says, "We've had several strangulation-type situations where someone has been choked and it's just a little bit more serious. The injuries are a little bit more serious."
The average victim is also older than before.
"[They're in their] seventies and eighties. We had one client who was 86-years-old," Eckert said.
Safe Place says those victims are usually abused by direct family members, like their kids. These elderly victims are likely coming in due in part to increased awareness about patient resources.
The shelter does not have one clear answer as to why is there a rise in outpatient case loads and more extreme physical abuse cases. However, they do believe the growing economy brings with it more stressed out people. Stress can lead to substance abuse, which can then lead to domestic violence.
Safe Place says they can give you a fresh start. All you have to do is call.
"They can start a whole new life. All they have to do is want it," Velarde said.