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