It is now a perfect storm for what I’m calling in-home abuse.

Families are experiencing every kind of stress possible, alcohol and drugs are closer than human beings, and there are no “outsiders” to witness these horrific crimes and call for help.

What can you as a loved one, neighbor or even stranger do if you are concerned about something you are experiencing, hearing or seeing?

Call 9-1-1. 

Don’t intervene, don’t ignore it, and don’t think you have to have proof — that’s not your job.

All of our law enforcement officers are trained investigators in these crimes. It’s part of their job to do welfare checks, and they will do it in a professional and sensitive manner. 

If you don’t call 9-1-1 and something terrible happens, you will never forgive yourself.

What can you do if you are a victim of one of these crimes? 

Call 9-1-1. 

Beyond your immediate safety and the safety of your loved ones, you can also contact our social service first-responders:

» Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence: Contact Domestic Violence Solutions.

» Child Abuse: Contact CALM.

» Sexual Assault: Contact STESA.

» Animal Abuse: Contact Animal Control in your city or the county. Also the Human Society will lovingly shelter your pet until the threat of abuse is over.

But again please start with CALLING 9-1-1.

What if you are a perpetrator? If you are abusing someone or some animal, leave your home and go some place safe.

Even if you are “just” abusing alcohol or drugs and you know that can lead to acts of violence, LEAVE and go someplace where you can’t hurt yourself or anyone else.

If you feel you are not in danger of endangering others, but you know you need help because you are abusing alcohol or drugs, now is the time to get it. Call 2-1-1 to find out what resources are available to you right now.

What if none of these crimes have occurred but you can feel the stress in your home building?

Don’t ignore it. Talk about it. Find the solutions that work for you and/or your family.

Walks? Projects? Prayer? Reaching out to your extended family and/or friends? And if you are still not sure call 211 and ask about other resources that may be helpful to you.

What if you or one of your loved ones is feeling helpless, hopeless and suicidal? Locally you can call 2-1-1.

You can also call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255.

These, for many of our community members, are the worst of times. Please do what you can to make things better.

— Joyce Dudley is Santa Barbara County’s district attorney. The opinions expressed are her own.