By Erin Woods for the stands
Bluff Country Family Resources has been providing quality, confidential services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse since 1984. We have seen a lot of changes over the past 37 years as funding and community go up and down. Like many others, COVID-19 has presented our agency with unprecedented challenges.
The services we offer are very personal in nature, which has made the move to virtual platforms, isolation and social distancing a major obstacle for us. We focus on the safety of our program participants and that often means bringing people into our space to work on things like safety planning, obtaining protection orders, support groups, shopping for essentials, doctor’s appointments, home tours and much more. We had to watch out for the unpredictable virus, but we also had to be careful not to re-traumatize survivors and make them feel unsupported in a world of social distancing.
We expected a very sharp increase in crisis calls and violence during the lockdown. It seemed inevitable that people in unstable environments would be at increased safety risks when employers, community resources, and schools all worked differently. Exposing the people at home to new levels of stress was a recipe for disaster. What we actually saw was a huge drop in crisis calls, which was worrying. We don’t have a clear picture of why this happened, but we suspect that it was more difficult for survivors to contact when they were locked up with the person who harmed them. Despite the lack of calls, we remained open and ready to meet the need in any way possible. We all performed services, although many of them were performed differently. In 2021, we actually saw the surge in calls and needs in the communities we serve.