DENVER — A nonprofit organization focused on assisting LatinX survivors of domestic violence is struggling to keep up with a growing need for resources.
Judith Padilla says she reached out to Latinas Safehouse, a nonprofit organization in Denver, in October after enduring years of physical, verbal, and economic violence. The nonprofit helped her with rent when her apartment caught on fire and is helping her heal after leaving a dangerous relationship.
Padilla moved to the United States from Mexico 17 years ago. She says she’s fell victim to multiple physically violent men. She confessed, she suffered in silence and endured beatings for years because she feared deportation if she called the police.
Padilla's three children were born in Colorado and she says she is the only family they have in the states and can't imagine leaving them behind, without her protection. She says going back to Mexico isn't an option after her first partner threatened to kill her.
Angela Cesena, the executive director of Latin Safehouse, says in 2020 the organization experienced a 780% spike in survivor intake cases and a 2,000% increase in need of financial resources. According to Cesena, for the first time in 22 years, in December, the organization started a waitlist.
“We have seen that the severity of the cases has worsened and the length of time that survivors are asking for assistance,” Cesena said.
The nonprofit provides survivors with bilingual and culturally sensitive services throughout their healing journey.
“We just launched Mi Casita, which is a domestic violence housing first initiative, so we do provide rental assistance and emergency rapid rehousing for survivors,” Cesena said.
The organization also provides behavioral health services and financial assistance for transportation and food.
Cesena says 1 in 3 Latinas are survivors of domestic violence.
To help address the growing demand for resources, the organization added an emergency call line and is adding an additional staff member. Cesena says they also need volunteers and monetary donations.
Wiping away tears, Padilla says it’s hard to leave a violent relationship when you don’t have money to buy a gallon of milk because your partner has financial control. She says it's why organizations like Latina Safehouse are vital.
Padilla works three jobs and volunteers with several organizations, but she didn’t always have that freedom. She admits, while she advocated for other women she struggled to open up about her own abuse. She pointed to an ankle brace and recalled the time her partner threw her, and she injured her ankle. It’s been months since the incident and she’s still recovering.
For now, Padilla says she's focused on her children and wants to continue to provide hope and support to other LatinX survivors of domestic violence.