Domestic violence victim services see increase in calls for help

SPOKANE, Wash. – More people are now reaching out for help in domestic violence situations.

Since reopening its in-person services, the YWCA says it has seen double the number of people asking for face-to-face and virtual help in the last two weeks.

When the state started shutting down in March, YWCA was afraid there would be fewer calls because victims were isolated at home with their perpetrators. They did see a decrease in calls, which was concerning.

Terran Echegoyen,  the counseling center manager with YWCA, said she did not know what to expect when they reopened for in-person services two weeks ago.

“Are their partners going to work, just because we’re going to work? Maybe they’re still at home with their perpetrator or maybe they aren’t able to get out of the house because they don’t have the same excuses as they had before,” Echegoyen said.

Some advocates at the YWCA are now getting 20 more calls per week compared to when things were still closed down. In-person appointments have picked back up, as well, almost to the point where they were before the pandemic hit, Echegoyen said.

With another way to access resources, Zoom has allowed victims outside the area to get help.

“I think we’re doing more zoom calls right now more than we ever have before even though they were available prior,” Echegoyen said. “I think the beautiful thing that we’re able to serve people far away, Colbert, things like that, because they’re able to access us online, zoom and in-person.”

The Women’s Healing and Empowerment Network (WHEN) is also seeing a rise in calls.

Mable C. Dunbar, the president and CEO of WHEN, says they used to get only two or three calls a week. Now, they’re getting up to five, maybe even six on some weeks.

When victims were stuck at home during the stay home order, it was hard to get out. In a domestic violence situation, Dunbar said there’s a cycle that happens.

“I think as a result of the COVID, people are staying in the tension building phase longer because when the explosion phase comes, where can they go?,” she explained.

WHEN’s safe house can only house up to five women and it is at capacity right now, too.

“We’re a faith based organization, so what we want people to know is that there’s hope, and that even though our organization, in particular, even though we might not be able to house them, we can still offer support,” she said.

Both organizations believe that the increase won’t stop as more things start to reopen.

There are many ways to reach out for help.

Here is a list of some resources:

  • YWCA: Call 509-326-2255 or text 509-220-3725
  • Lutheran Community Services: Call or text 509-624-7273
  • Safe Passage in Coeur d’Alene: Call 208-664-9303 or text 208-499-7228

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