Where to go for help

  • by Seth Hemmelgarn
  • Tuesday June 25, 2013
Share this Post:

People who spoke with the Bay Area Reporter about their experiences with domestic violence indicated their dealings with law enforcement officials and other service providers weren't always perfect, but one man in particular urged others to seek help.

Phillip S. Huff, 31, of San Francisco, said he was recently in a relationship with a man whom even friends described as "adorable."

But not long after they started dating, signs of trouble emerged. The man was manipulative, and he worked to isolate Huff from his friends and support group, Huff said.

"I think I always had this gut feeling that maybe he could become violent," Huff said, but he thought, "This couldn't happen to me."

However, he said, "Everything came to a head in September," when the man became physically abusive.

Huff and the other man had been discussing whether to go to a Folsom Street Fair party. The other man wanted to go. Huff didn't.

Huff was lying on his bed when the man began to hit him with his fists, saying, "You're going to go. You're going to do what I tell you to do."

When Huff got up, he saw that the man had opened a switchblade knife and was lunging at him. Huff yelled for help, and a neighbor called 911. Police arrived quickly, and one officer paid special attention to "make sure I was okay," he said.

He said that the other man, whose name he didn't want published for fear of retaliation, was sentenced in April to three years of probation and 52 weeks of counseling, and was ordered to stay away from Huff.

"My experience with the police and the district attorney's office was extraordinarily positive," said Huff, who does volunteer work with the safety group Castro Community on Patrol.

He also said that "In San Francisco, all the services are there," but from his perspective, they're "underutilized."

"The one thing that really needs to happen is when people are being hurt, regardless of the type of relationship they're in, or their gender, or how they identify, they really need to report it," said Huff, who acknowledged "it's scary."

The police, the district attorney's office, and nonprofits "really want to help," he said. "They really want to stop the hurting. But there's nothing they can do if they don't know about it, so you've got to speak up."

Sergeant Dennis Toomer, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, also encourages people to come forward.

"We want to investigate these crimes, but we have to know about it in order to investigate it," Toomer said.

Warning signs of domestic violence may include someone who comes on strong and gets serious very quickly, name-calling, extreme jealousy, a controlling attitude, and physical acts such as shoving and kicking.

To some, incidents may seem minor, but Cori Manthorne, director of programs at Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse, said, "If you need to be safe, then please engage in a service and take that chance, because domestic violence can be lethal."

For more warning signs visit http://www.lacasa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Warning-Signs-of-Abuse.pdf.

Here are some Bay Area organizations that offer support to survivors of domestic violence. Many agencies offer multilingual services.


Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach

Work includes legal and social services for survivors of domestic violence, in partnership with other community-based agencies.

San Francisco office: (415) 567-6255

Oakland office: (510) 251-2846



Asian Women's Shelter

Services include shelter and case management.

24-hour crisis line (for men and women):

(877) 751-0880



Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse

Services include counseling, shelter, and legal assistance.

24-hour hotline:

(800) 300-1080



Community United Against Violence

(415) 333-HELP (4357)



La Casa de las Madres

Services include emergency shelter, counseling, and legal assistance.

24-hour hotline

Adults (877) 503-1850

Teens (877) 923.0700



Larkin Street Youth Services

People ages 12-24 who are experiencing domestic violence and are in need of immediate shelter or help, can call (800) 669-6196.



Riley Center (a program of St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco)

Services include an emergency shelter, transitional housing, and drop-in services such as support groups and referrals.

24-Hour Support Line: (415) 255-0165