All of us at LifeWire hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe during this health crisis. We want to share an update about how our services and our survivors are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
LifeWire continues to serve survivors
Thanks to creative planning, technology, and the dedication of our staff, LifeWire is able to offer all of our existing services. Advocates and therapists meet with participants regularly by video or phone, and our support groups have moved online. Our shelters operate with a skeleton crew, and our helpline is staffed around the clock. The need for our services during the COVID-19 pandemic is growing. We have seen an increase in the number of requests for food and housing assistance, as well as safety planning, legal help, and mental health therapy.
Increased tensions and violence in the home
Survivors who live with an abusive partner are at increased risk of violence when everyone is forced to be at home together due to illness or quarantine. This health crisis is forcing extended close contact between abusers, survivors, and their children, for a much longer and more intense duration than any of us have experienced.
Being at home together 24/7 also means that the windows of time when an abuser goes to work or otherwise leaves home – the times when survivors usually reach out for help, support, or make plans to flee – will be gone. Control will increase, and survivors will become more isolated if abusers do not permit them to be in contact with friends, family, or other support. Survivors are also anxious about what will happen to their children during these times of increased tension, especially if the survivor becomes ill and is not able to protect or physically care for them.
LifeWire’s Legal Advocates are inundated with requests for help to obtain Domestic Violence Protection Orders from survivors who need to get their abusive partners out of the home or are afraid that their former abuser will find them while they’re isolated at home. We are answering requests and providing information to hospitals and the King County Courthouse, which have seen an increase in requests for domestic violence resources.
Many of the survivors we work with are employed in the food or hospitality industries and have been laid off or had their hours drastically cut. They are worried about how they will pay rent, which was already difficult to do on their own. Other survivors anticipate the loss of income due to any combination of illness, child care needs with schools closed, layoffs, and cut hours as businesses feel the impact of the governor’s stay home order. We are seeing increased needs for emergency financial assistance and expect these needs to grow exponentially.
Advocates continue to be as creative as possible. They’re purchasing e-gift cards or online necessities for families who do not have access to safe transportation or who have health concerns that keep them from venturing out to obtain basics necessities such as diapers, wipes, or medicine. We are increasing the use of promissory letters and landlord outreach/education to protect the rights of our survivors.
LifeWire staff continues to do everything they can to provide services and keep life as safe as possible for survivors and their families.
Thank you for your support of LifeWire. We are truly grateful for your partnership, today more than ever!