“I have seen it (abuse) and it is terrible,” said Lisa Cooper, daytime manager at The Green Earth. “It is not something that people are really that aware of though, because it goes on behind closed doors most of the time. People here have to work so hard just to make ends meet. It is hard. And then, when you throw in alcohol and drugs – then things can get ugly. I have seen what happens. People need to know there is someone out there who really cares, someone who can help them get out of that abusive situation. They have to get help to break the cycle of abuse.”
“We never judge,” Rivera said. “We always support whatever decision the victim makes. We give them information and we advocate for them through the legal system. We have a 24/7 hotline, counseling services and a fully staffed, secure safe-house where we can accommodate up to nine individuals. In our advocacy program we help them navigate the system — orders of protection, criminal court proceedings, custody and child support. We also have referrals to other agencies that can help with money, temporary housing, education, and other things.”
Rivera said in 2012 there were 1,462 calls made to the hotline, 111 new cases were opened that had no former history of reported domestic violence, 3,112 counseling sessions, 973 legal advocacy service cases, 2,615 referrals to other agencies and 66 people seeking temporary shelter in the safe house.
When a call comes into the hotline, trained individuals help the person navigate decisions. If there is a crises occurring as the person is on the phone, a call is immediately placed to 911. Often the victim is calling after a violent incident.
“Sometimes there is a call from the hospital,” Rivera said. “If that is the case, an advocate will go to the hospital. If the caller has been raped and has not gone to the hospital, we recommend they go right away to get checked and to collect any information necessary. We meet them there.”