City of Albuquerque creates Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – One of the many tasks for The City of Albuquerque’s new Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission, which held its first meeting Monday afternoon, is to close gaps.
“There are a lot of gaps for a survivor where they have to take off work, they don’t have money, there’s financial need, there’s housing need, there’s one shelter in Albuquerque—the largest shelter S.A.F.E. house—but that’s not enough to house, everybody,” said Commission Chair Teresa Garcia.
Mayor Tim Keller signed the commission into law late last year, following a record-breaking number of domestic calls for service over the holidays. Garcia will join more than a dozen other commissioners, from a variety of backgrounds, once a month to take on concerns that have plagued the metro for generations.
“There are 16 total people,” Domestic Violence and Gender-Based Violence Prevention Coordinator Isez Roybal said. “There are five service provider organizations, three that are culturally sensitive and provide services in languages other than English. There are two lived-experience survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
The commission is also made up of representatives from multiple City of Albuquerque departments, and one of the first actions Monday was to get even more stakeholders involved.
“We did do one recommendation, which is awesome for the first meeting, in asking to bring in a representative from the DA and the Attorney General and Public Defender’s Office,” Garcia said. “They’re not at the table, and we need them at the table because we know that they serve survivors of domestic violence.”
The commission also plans to strengthen existing programs like the Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART). Albuquerque Police officers respond with iPads during domestic situations, to immediately connect survivors, face-to-face, with providers at the Family Advocacy Center. But only a few dozen officers have special training now, which is another thing the new city commission hopes to change.
“It really takes coordinated community response to create change,” Garcia said. “We can’t do this alone.”
“We are just happy and excited to be working on behalf of you, and bringing these real-life issues, that can no longer be held behind closed doors, to light,” Roybal added. “We acknowledge you, we see you, we hear you, and we are just looking for ways to advocate and create a healthier, safer environment for you.”
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission meetings are open to the public. Click here to learn more about the commission or how you can participate.
If you or someone you know needs support in a domestic situation, click here.