Responding to COVID-19

The need for our services quickly grew during the pandemic, both in numbers and intensity. We experienced exponential increases in requests for housing and food assistance, as well as safety planning, legal help, and mental health therapy.

The pandemic forced abusers, survivors, and children into extended close contact, increasing the likelihood and severity of violence. Survivors who had already left abusive partners found it harder to stay safe and struggled to maintain their economic stability.

Thanks to creative planning, technology, and the dedication of our staff, LifeWire quickly adjusted in March 2020 to keep our shelters open and offer all other services virtually. To meet emerging needs, we expanded critical and emergency services.

We kept a skeleton staff at our shelters and continued to accept new families as shelter space became available. Thanks to new safety measures, and a little luck, there weren’t any confirmed COVID-19 cases in our shelters. Advocates became deeply creative to meet the new challenges:

  • Communicating with survivors through safe words and secure emails when an abusive partner was almost always home
  • Purchasing necessities online for families with health concerns so they didn’t have to venture out for diapers, wipes, or medicine
  • Using promissory letters and landlord education to help survivors relocate
  • Virtually accompanying survivors through court proceedings
  • Helping participants purchase phones, computers or other technology needed to access services

We anticipate that the effects of the pandemic in terms of home displacement, rental arrears, legal backlogs, trauma, mental health concerns and other immediate survivor needs will continue for 2-3 years after Washington state reopens. For survivors, this crisis is far from over

Finding strength and stability

Every time Aleah tried to leave or hide, her abuser tracked her down. Eventually, one of his violent outbursts left her with a traumatic brain injury and a growing stack of medical bills. When he landed in jail for the assault, Aleah was also left to pay their shared rent and the other bills. She tried to find work but jobs were scarce during the first months of the pandemic. Then her doctor declared her unable to work for at least a few months while she healed from her brain injury.

Aleah was months behind on her rent when she reached out to LifeWire for financial help. Despite the eviction moratorium, her landlord pressed her weekly about paying the back rent that had accumulated since her assault. Aleah told her advocate that she didn’t know where else to go for help. She had immigrated to the U.S. from the Middle East for school nearly a decade before, leaving most of her family behind.

To give Aleah the stability she needed to address her health and other DV-related issues, LifeWire paid her rent twice. When her abuser got out of jail and assaulted her again, Aleah called her advocate for help with crisis safety planning. She worked with her LifeWire legal advocate to get a Domestic Violence Protection Order. In the process, Aleah learned how to advocate for herself if she needed to call the police on her abuser again. Equipped with a better understanding of the American legal system, Aleah found a low-cost lawyer to support her case.

Feeling safer, Aleah worked with her advocate on becoming economically stable. She connected with the additional health services she needed to heal and applied for medical bill relief. Aleah finally felt able to sleep at night when she connected with Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) – King County, which will help repay her back rent. Aleah is still recovering from her head injury, but she hopes to find a new job soon. She recently told her advocate, “I’m doing really well.”

We support survivors:

LifeWire partners with survivors on their individual journeys toward renewed strength, stability, and empowerment. Our advocates listen to survivors as they describe their needs and help them identify resources that will enable them to build safer lives. By tailoring our support to each survivor, we are able to respond to survivors’ unique barriers, challenges, and goals.

Help us ensure that LifeWire’s Advocacy Services are here for every survivor who needs them when they need them.

Thanks to your support, last year:

  • 969 survivors worked one-on-one with a LifeWire advocate to heal from physical, financial, emotional, and other forms of abuse.
  • 209 participants received support from LifeWire’s Legal Advocacy services team for domestic violence-related issues, including Protection Orders and custody challenges.
  • 158 adults, children, and youth received domestic violence-informed mental health therapy to heal form their experiences.