More than a month has passed since officials enacted stay-at-home orders for Missourians. And for organizations that deal with domestic violence, it’s been an incredibly anxious time.
On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske checked in with Safe Connections, a local entity that works to prevent domestic and sexual violence.
Joining the conversation were Safe Connections CEO Susan D. Kidder and the organization’s director of crisis and prevention, Brigid Welch. They discussed how they're navigating helping victims who are more in contact with their abusers as of late.
One of Safe Connections’ main resources is its crisis hotline. Welch, who answers some of those calls, said there’s been a big increase in calls from people wanting to get help for themselves or for their loved ones.
“We look at our call volume month to month, and in March we had a 19% increase, and that is significant for us. We usually see somewhere between a 1 to 5% increase in a given month year to year, so that was astounding and very indicative of this time, and people looking for resources and support,” Welch said.
Kidder added that the shelter-at-home orders have really amplified and potentially escalated the incidence of domestic violence in the home because a survivor might have fewer resources, outlets or opportunities to reach out for help.
Another cause of concern is that the number of hotline calls that have to do with abuse of children, elders and those with disabilities across the state is down by 50%.
“You picture this potentially violent person, this abuser, [who] has this ideal situation to control that person, that child maybe, [who] is not seeing the teachers, social workers, church, coaches — folks that they usually would in their life — who may be making those calls as mandated report calls,” Welch added.
“The falling-off of calls, in general for us, could mean that someone is more isolated, vulnerable, unable to access those networks of support in their life.”
Aside from the crisis hotline, another key component of the organization is its prevention education program. In an effort to stay in touch with youth who are no longer in traditional school settings, Safe Connections is launching various social media pages to continue lessons usually taught in a classroom: on healthy relationships, red flags about violence, how to stay safe, how to do self-care, how to be that supportive bystander and more.
Listen to the full discussion:
If you or a loved one needs help, call the Women's Safe House at 314-772-4535, Saint Martha's Hall at 314-533-1313 or Safe Connections at 314-531-2003. Metro East residents can contact the Violence Prevention Center in Belleville at 618-235-0892.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.
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