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Organizations create code words for domestic violence victims stuck at home

Posted at 10:44 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 23:44:02-04

As people shelter in place across the country, for some, the most dangerous place for them to be could be their homes, making it hard for them to find help.

Karath Smith battled domestic abuse for more than a decade.

"Kept going back, kept leaving. Kept going back, kept leaving," said Smith.

Her journey and the journey of her best friend, Sarina Ozuna, sparked the creation of Abigail's Place, an emotional healing group.

"We were like, "Let's change it. Let's do something about it. Let's offer something to where people can have an outlet that we really didn't have,"" said Smith.

The two Bosque County single mothers say their group is now full of about 500 Central Texas domestic violence survivors just like them.

Their latest battle? Being there for survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic, as their only form of contact now is online and on the phone.

"Sometimes that is the most dangerous place to be is in your home with your abuser," said Ozuna. "We've been in really deep prayer for women who were planning to leave or who want to leave, who can't at this time."

For those far away from loved ones, code words are now critical. Just take a look at this Facebook post.

Facebook post

"I know there's lots of national organizations that have done that," explained Kathy Reid, Executive Director of the Family Abuse Center in Waco. "[They] have suggested, you know, you can go to your post office or you can go to another place and use one of those codes. Or just tell somebody in a grocery store that you're in danger. They can call the police. They can call 911 in a way maybe you can't."

Reid says while they have not seen a significant increase in the number of calls, they believe that could change.

"We are kind of concerned that we are going to see a large increase in a need for services when the shelter in place gets lifted because people may be more free then to use the phone," said Reid.

To find domestic violence help, you can visit these websites: