violence agency announces expansion plans
Haven House, the only agency in Sandoval County dedicated to serving
victims of domestic violence, has announced that it has begun its
effort to double the size of its facility in order to accommodate
the county’s rapid growth and the agency’s growing demand
for services. Haven House board member Casey Bresnahan of First
Community Bank in Rio Rancho is heading the effort as chair of the
“Phase II Committee.”
Haven House’s Executive Director, Dianne Torrance, spoke
on September 6 to the Sandoval County Commission about the project.
She cited several statistics on domestic violence, summarized Haven
House’s services, and described the plan to double the size
of the current facility, which is located in Rio Rancho. Several
Haven House staff and board members were in attendance.
Torrance noted that domestic violence includes not only physical
violence but also threat of physical harm and various types of verbal
and emotional abuse, which often accompany or progress to physical
She explained to the Commission that domestic violence is common
and costly. She said that the most conservative estimate, by the
U.S. Department of Justice, is that one out of four women at some
point in their lives will be victims of domestic violence. Other
studies put the number at one in three or more. Though men may be
victims also, most studies say that more than ninety percent of
victims are women. Torrance added that domestic violence affects
not only direct adult victims but also any children who are witnesses
to violence in their homes. Child witnesses often exhibit serious
“acting out” behaviors, withdrawal, depression, anxiety,
and failure to grow and develop cognitively and even physically
as appropriate for their ages. As adults, they are very likely to
become abusers or victims themselves.
Torrance said that the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety has
stated publicly that approximately half of the criminal calls to
which officers respond are domestic violence, at a cost of approximately
$500 per call for even a misdemeanor-level offense, and more for
felony-level violence. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says
that for every one thousand female employees, more than one hundred
each year will be involved in a domestic violence incident. Emergency
room visits due to domestic violence cost from $200 to $2,000 or
more, according to numbers provided by medical facilities in Rio
Rancho and Albuquerque.
Haven House began in 1994 as Project Sandoval County, to help domestic
violence victims with legal advocacy, including information about
how the court system works and help in obtaining orders of protection
(restraining orders) and participating in court hearings and other
aspects of the legal system. The agency’s physical facility
opened in January 2002. Haven House still provides legal advocacy
but now also offers shelter for women who are victims of domestic
violence and their children, a twenty-four-hour hotline, crisis
intervention, case management including referrals, support/education
groups in the community as well as in the shelter, an array of services
for child witness/victims, and community education and outreach.
Haven House also provides a fifty-two-week educational batterers’
intervention program for men who are referred by the courts or who
self-refer. Torrance says the program works with batterers on behalf
of victims and that it is different from counseling or therapy “anger
Any woman or man who would like more information on domestic violence
in general or Haven House services specifically, or would like to
discuss options for domestic violence victims, is welcome to call
Haven House at any time. The toll-free hotline number is 1-800-526-7157.
Torrance’s presentation to the Commission noted that during
its fiscal year that ended June 30, Haven House served an average
of 104 clients per month, not including men in its batterers’
program. The numbers are continuously growing; the agency served
an average of eighty-eight per month in 2006 and seventy-nine per
month in 2005.
Even when it first opened, Torrance notes that the current shelter
facility was termed “Phase I” of a building that founding
community members knew would need to be expanded in a few years.
The current forty-two-hundred-square-foot facility sits on land
leased from Sandoval County. It has five bedrooms with a total of
nineteen beds. Torrance says the facility usually is full or nearly
full and at peak times, it must turn away families every day. Also,
the facility has virtually no space for individual, confidential
work with clients. “This is a major problem since one of the
pillars of our work is client confidentiality,” Torrance says.
“A woman who has just made the difficult decision to leave
an abusive situation and come to our shelter right now has no really
private space to discuss very personal and painful information with
Haven House has drawn up a schematic plan for the expansion, which
will include five more bedrooms to shelter twice the number of residents,
an all-purpose meeting room for women’s and children’s
support and education groups, small offices for confidential work
with clients, a homework room for children, and renovations to the
kitchen and dining areas to enable them to serve twice the number
of residents. Though detailed building plans are not yet completed,
the initial estimate to complete Phase II is $1.2 million.
For the project, Haven House obtained $240,000 from the 2007 State
Legislature, to be contracted through Sandoval County as the fiscal
agent, and is well into the process of securing the rest of the
funds needed from other sources, including the federal Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) agency, the 2008 Legislature, and Sandoval
County. The project was just recently included in the county’s
Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan.
Anyone interested in helping in some way with Haven House’s
Phase II facility expansion; making a contribution; doing volunteer
work for the program; or having a Haven House speaker for their
work, club, civic, or church group may call the Haven House office
at 896-4869 and ask for Dianne.
Plan for Halloween safety
—SUBMITTED BY FRED RADOSEVICH, CHIEF, BERNALILLO
The Bernalillo Police Department would like to offer the following
safety tips for parents and children for Halloween.
• Wear light-colored clothing or costumes.
• Use makeup instead of a mask for better visibility.
• Make a map of the route for you and your parents.
• Carry a flashlight or light stick.
• Stay in your own neighborhood.
• Be respectful of other people and their property.
• Stop only at well-lighted houses.
• Have a parent check treats before you eat them.
• Start early and end early.
• Use sidewalks or walk facing traffic.
• Always keep a safe distance between you and moving vehicles.
• Stop, look, and listen at corners or before crossing the
street, and walk—don’t run.
• Don’t go between parked cars or crisscross back and
forth across the street.
• Never go inside a stranger’s house or apartment,
no matter what anyone says.
• Don’t carry sharp instruments, and never carry a
lighted candle or open flame.
Please report any suspicious activity to the Bernalillo Police
Department at (505) 891-7226.
Be aware of hazard trees in forested areas
The Sandia Mountains are being challenged by yet another force of
nature: insects. An active bug infestation at upper and lower elevations
of the Sandia Mountains is killing stands of trees. Western balsam
bark beetle, fir engraver beetle, and Douglas-fir tussock moth have
extensively damaged thousands of acres. Competition for water and
nutrients in the soil and lack of natural fire has negatively impacted
the forest’s health, weakened tree defenses, and created an
environment where existing damaging insects are able to multiply
successfully. The insects are at an epidemic level, similar to the
piñon bark beetle epidemic in the recent past.
“Lack of natural fire has allowed trees to thrive on the
mountain. Once a drought comes in, the trees become stressed and,
just like disease moving through crowded city conditions, they are
vulnerable to disease and insect damage, and in their weakened state,
the trees will die,” said Sandia District Ranger Cid Morgan.
Widespread tree mortality has raised concerns for the safety of
visitors in the forest, particularly from the danger of falling
trees. The Sandia Ranger District has actively been removing hazard
trees as soon as they are identified, concentrating in picnic areas,
trails, and along highways. Due to the fast-moving spread of this
infestation within the wilderness and areas along trails, there
are stands of dead standing trees near hiking trails in remote areas.
The Sandia Wilderness is especially hard-hit. There is less evidence
of infestation south of 1-40 in the Cedro, David, and Otero Canyon
Visitors need to be extremely careful when in the forest. Be aware
of dead standing trees (snags) around you at all times. Exit heavily
forested areas that have dead standing trees, especially during
high winds. The Sandia Ranger District is actively working on a
solution to protect visitors and will update the public with information
as the situation changes.
For more information, contact Sandia District Ranger Cid Morgan
at (505) 281-3304.