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Get Healthy Carson City: Advocates adapts services to pandemic

By Advocates to End Domestic Violence

This year, as we thought about how to approach Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it was hard to ignore the elephant in the room, COVID-19.

COVID has impacted nearly everyone, and domestic violence survivors felt the impact in more ways than most. The initial quarantine had domestic violence advocates across the country concerned because crisis calls slowed down significantly. Not because perpetrators had stopped abusing, but because survivors were isolated from their support networks, had no outlets, and were fearful of being kicked out of the house during a global pandemic.

Many domestic violence agencies put a freeze to new clients and motels were only allowing essential workers to stay at their facilities. Domestic violence survivors were painfully aware of the lack of resources and help available to them, leaving them stuck at home with their abusers, who were often in a heightened state of anger and aggression.

At Advocates to End Domestic Violence, we worked tirelessly to ensure that our shelter and nearly all of our support services operated as usual, with a few minor (OK, major) changes.

For starters, our staff wore masks, accommodated 6 foot social distancing when meeting with survivors for case management, parenting, and budgeting classes, and the agency office door was locked to ensure health and safety precautions prior to staff contact, as sheltering survivors is an essential service.

Our public access support groups were canceled as well, although we were able to provide referrals, and support groups for shelter residents remained. Our Shelter Manager implemented new cleaning and disinfecting procedures, as well as a 14-day “quarantine” in a separate unit for new shelter clients. We did our best to reduce exposure, knowing that a positive COVID test within our agency or shelter would only cause further isolation for victims in Carson County.

This October, for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we decided to shift the focus a bit and celebrate the resiliency and strength of domestic violence survivors and the agencies/advocates who dedicate their lives to helping them. Survivors endure horrific physical, emotional, and financial abuse, but muster up the strength to survive, to cope, to escape, to heal, to rebuild, to trust, to ask for help in a society that victim shames, to give it all up and start over.

The people who serve survivors prioritize the well-being of others, of strangers, over their own comfort. Listening to recounts of abuse day in and day out can cause vicarious trauma and burnout and without these dedicated people, survivors would have no one to turn to for help. To all the survivors, past and present, advocates and volunteers, we see you, we acknowledge you, and we honor you this October, and every month thereafter.

If you are not already, be sure to follow us on Facebook (Advocates to End Domestic Violence) to see the work we are doing in our community. This year more than ever, we need the support of the community, whatever that looks like for you. Share our posts, volunteer, donate needed items, donate financially.

If you or someone you know is living with domestic violence, remember we are here for you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week through our crisis line, 775-883-7654.