Domestic violence on the rise with more time at home
While shelter at home orders seek to provide protection from the spread of illness, added stress combined with more time at home can be a recipe for increased domestic violence.
Area shelter Blue Monarch Founder and President Susan Binkley, notes that “we hear among the non-profit community that domestic violence has gone up, and it is easy to imagine the reasons for that. This time has been enormously stressful for families everywhere.”
She said that her organization has a heavy flow of applicants on a normal day, and that has continued through the crisis as well.
“We are hearing from women who have lost their jobs because they are having to stay at home with their children who are out of school, or because the businesses are closed due to COVID-19. I am concerned for those mothers and hope they will get the support they need to get back on their feet,” she said.
Binkley says reach out for help to those in a dangerous situation.
“Even though many offices are closed and lots of people are working from home, those lifelines are open and all the same individuals who want to help are still out there. We are checking our messages and I trust other organizations are as well. And I always encourage women to have the courage to call 911 when they are not safe. I pray they will,” she said.
Blue Monarch, like the majority of the community, has been forced to adapt to the current situation, yet in many ways, Blue Monarch is different.
“Unlike some organizations that have lost contact with their clients during this pandemic, as a residential recovery program, we are still serving the same women and children in our care and trying to maintain our typical schedule as much as possible,” Binkley explained.
“However, we have implemented strict quarantine policies and take the health of our community very seriously. We have been able to continue counseling and classes – and even parenting coaching, by video, but of course this is not at all the same as in-person contact with our incredible team.”
A new way of doing business
Binkley said that the staff at Blue Monarch is adapting to the social distancing protocols while maintaining effective care for a population sensitive to abandonment.
“This week we began sending some of our staff to the campus in short shifts to conduct classes, while exercising what I would describe as ‘extreme social distancing’ because I felt that our residents really needed to see our staff members face to face – even if they were wearing a mask,” she said.
“We serve a population that is familiar with abandonment, so we cannot let this quarantine begin to feel like that and potentially impact their recovery. Our on-site staff have been absolute rock stars keeping things running smoothly, providing structure where it is needed, and facilitating all the video sessions throughout the week.”
The moms have used this time to develop creative bonding activities with their children.
“We posted one of Megan Scott’s projects on Facebook, we had mothers out in the community wanting to use her idea at home with their own children. She made this treasure chest and each child could earn the opportunity to reach in and receive a prize at the end of the day. It worked like a charm.”
Blue Monarch relies on volunteers for about 84 hours a week in all kinds of capacities. Though none are allowed on campus now.
“We miss our volunteers and I believe they miss us, too. One of our little boys wanted to see his mentor so badly, we arranged a video visit, and he immediately lit up with excitement when he saw his mentor’s face,” Binkley said.
Children are some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. The world changed in a matter of weeks as adults watched, but children, often only picking up on the emotion of their parents, don’t understand.
“One little boy asked his mother if our entire staff was in trouble, as if we were all in time out,” Binkley said.