COVID-19 has been especially hard for the families we serve, in response our direct services team have doubled down in providing uninterrupted case management and supportive services. Our clinical team has noted an increase in anxiety and mental health needs, especially in our community clients. MSP converted our weekly domestic violence resource clinic to a virtual clinic, and we are conducting phone and video conference appointments for survivor reaching out for assistance. Most of our services are offered virtually, using video conferencing platforms - this includes support groups, virtual tutoring and children’s group, and telehealth sessions. MSP even provides virtual art-therapy, dropping off art supplies at a families’ doorstep so that they can continue to participate in art-therapy.
MSP staff have provided contactless cleaning supplies, PPE, basic toiletries, groceries, and grocery gift cards to help offset the financial burdens of the pandemic. We made necessary adjustment and accommodations to maintain safety and avoid the spread of the virus, increasing shelter cleaning and sanitizing, providing PPE, conducting health and wellness checks, and practicing social distancing. Our school-aged survivors at the shelter have been doing virtual learning. MSP has provided additional access to computers and boosted our internet to accommodate the increased need.
MSP has enhanced our workforce development and empowerment workshops at the shelter and in the community and increased access to addiction counseling and therapy sessions to meet the increased need brought about by COVID-19.
A Time Magazine article from February 3, 2021, “Domestic Violence Is a Pandemic Within the Covid-19 Pandemic”, noted not only that domestic violence has grown but that it is likely that many victims have not been able to seek support because of lock-downs and reduced access to services. It also foresees that as “vaccines roll out and case counts drop and quarantine ends, partners who were abused during lockdown may begin to re-emerge.” MSP is preparing for an increase in need.
Several similar reports have noted that lockdowns and social isolation has increased the risk of domestic violence and have further removed access to social support structures. We have seen this first-hand. During this critical time for domestic violence survivors, MSP is more committed than ever to continuing and enhancing our life-saving programs. We know the urgency and demand for our work makes it critical that we are able to respond to the unfortunate by-product of the pandemic, an increase of domestic violence. MSP will continue to seek the support needed to enhance our ability to serve families fleeing domestic violence.