Since the Palomar Family Justice Center opened its doors five years ago, it has helped over 37,000 people, a number the non-profit said grows exponentially during winter.
“On average right now, we are seeing at least 30 clients a day come in for services, so it’s been pretty busy around here,” said Nicole Sukenis, the Director Of Client Services at Palomar.
She said for some the joy of the holidays is clouded by danger at the hands of the people they love, and additional stressors and financial strain add tension to an already unsafe situation.
“During the holidays we see an increase in clients coming in for services. Some of this is due in part to being indoors, elevated situations being around family members that don’t normally interact,” said Sukenis.
With 37 agencies under one roof, Palomar offers services to victims of domestic violence, stalking, harassment, child abuse, elder abuse, and sexual assault.
“Our partners here at Palomar offer a myriad of services, anything from therapy, animal advocacy, legal services, say for example someone needs help filing a VPO, obtaining a police report, things like that,” said the Director of Client Services.
As many are reuniting with family, Sukenis encourages people to keep the following in mind if they suspect a family member may be in danger.
“If you suspect someone might be in an unsafe situation start by just opening up a conversation with them and start by believing them. I think it is important to remember those victims know their situation way more than anybody else,” she said.
Also keep in mind it may not be the safest thing to leave right away. The best thing is to support them and keep checking in.
“Right off the bat establish what the safest form of connection is for them. Recognize that calling them and texting if they are being monitored is not a safe way to communicate with them. If there is a way to discretely share Palomar’s information or the 24/7 safe line,” said the Director of Client Services.