Hope for Survivors of Domestic Violence
By Ivan Martinez, Director of Outreach & Wing Operations
Leaving is sometimes the only solution. But what if your safe place is miles and miles away? Domestic violence relocation flights have long been a part of Angel Flight West’s mission. Helping those in a time of greatest need is what we’re all about and that could be escaping a difficult and often violent domestic situation. DV agencies spread throughout our service area provide survivors of domestic violence the help to escape, but oftentimes are left without resources to reach a safe location at a shelter or with family. We have recently undertaken some targeted outreach to domestic violence and sexual assault agencies to help expand our services in this area and we’ve received a very positive response.
Our DV campaign started several months ago with the assembly of several key volunteers, staff, and partners working together to coordinate an outreach plan. Our first step was creating a DV survivor specific brochure we could use for distribution to other agencies and shelters. We then updated the accompanying “Guidelines for DV Relocations” informational document for requesting agencies. In addition to the acceptance criteria for a regular mission, there are additional considerations we take when arranging DV relocation flights. One example is requiring the survivor requesting a flight must be residing in a shelter, ensuring the abuser is removed from the picture for the safety of the survivors and our volunteers. We also require the request must come from a service provider, such as an advocate, social worker, etc., which will usually also be the main contact for the survivor. You can read more about the DV guidelines and brochure in the AFW knowledge base.
We then reached out to state DV and sexual assault coalitions to help us spread the word about AFW. We had several responses from the state coalitions that helped us reach out to their individual member agencies. One success was connecting with The Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, who were very supportive and even included AFW in their monthly newsletter. Additionally, OCADSV permitted us to reach out to the individual coalition members, which proved to be a huge outreach success. We heard back from more than a dozen agencies throughout the state of Oregon, all wanting more information about AFW and we were more than happy to conduct virtual presentations for all. Currently, we are experiencing similar success in the Utah Wing and parts of California, and the team is working on those new connections and presentations.
The response of the DV outreach campaign has proven to be so successful that we have had to slightly scale back and gradually phase in other wings as we continue the campaign. Of course, help is always welcomed and if you’re interested in getting involved, be sure to reach out to your Wing Leader or the main office. Although you won’t get to read about any of our DV relocation missions in our almost daily mission stories shared on our social media channels, we do get to hear back from pilots on how rewarding they are to fly. They require extra effort and attention for the mission operations team to put together, but to give someone the opportunity and help to start a new life is all worth it in the end.