Take care of victims
Sheltering domestic violence victims is fairly easy. Durango has three basic options: the VOA shelter, the homeless shelter and Alternative Horizons. Unfortunately, they also have impossible standards, dangerous beliefs and a disdain for domestic violence survivors with disabilities.
The disability rights movement has been slow to acknowledge domestic violence in our community, but it hits home way too often.
What would help? Training is a step in the right direction. Disabilities are not ubiquitous and can be easy to accommodate. Likely in a business environment, people with disabilities deal with trauma issues, physical injuries or even some chronic illnesses. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, housing providers are required to accommodate people this community labels disabled without discrimination, but they fail to do this daily.
Housing providers base their criteria for admittance on bizarre and unarticulated options, and then randomly exclude people. Their behavior is very mindful of people who engage in domestic violence. Controlling, harassing and intolerant of difference, and this is from the director, their legal counsel and others in the agency.
Durango without a question needs a shelter that isn’t discriminatory or dangerous. Perhaps one that is better located and is not hard to access for people in wheelchairs or with mobility issues.
Certainly the agency will dispute any attack on it, and will harass and put critical voices in danger.
It’s time to do something better for domestic violence victims in this sad little town.
– Christa Turnell, Durango