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Battered Women’s Shelter ‘is not closed and will never close,’ CEO assures victims

Shelter and all other services are available, with small tweaks to follow CDC health recommendations

SAN ANTONIO – Amid COVID-19 concerns, the CEO of the Bexar County Battered Women and Children’s Shelter has a crucial and life-saving message: The shelter is open. All services are still available. If you need help, please reach out.

CEO Marta Pelaez called an emergency meeting Monday with her staff and the leaders of all partner agencies to discuss a full continuation of services, with small changes that will be made at the shelter to comply with CDC recommendations.

“Stressful circumstances in general are triggers for abusers, and so we are concerned,” Pelaez said.

With the possibility of a rise in abuse amid stress over COVID-19, Pelaez said it’s more important than ever to get the message out: the shelter will never close.

“Comprehensive services, the legal services, the counseling, the case management all of that will continue,” she said. “We’re also in touch with the chief of police and with the sheriff and with the courts to make sure all our services are provided in concert with everybody in the community.”

While main services continue, shelter staff is making tweaks to comply with updated federal health recommendations.

One-on-one counseling is still happening within the shelter, but group sessions are postponed for now.

They are also thinking about social distancing when it comes to mealtime.

"With this last new communication, no gatherings of more than 10 people, we will probably call our families at a time to serve their dinners," Pelaez said.

The housekeeping staff is working to consistently wash all surfaces, including all the door handles. There are also hand sanitizer dispensers set up across the building.

Incoming clients will be asked extra health questions about any cold or flu symptoms, and any staff members feeling sick will not be allowed at work.

All that being said, Pelaez said, "We're here, and we will be here."

Anyone experiencing abuse should call 911 if they are in current crisis.

Family Violence Prevention Services, offers resources and runs the shelter and can be reached at 210-733-8810.

For a list of resources, go to www.ksat.com/domesticviolence.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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