Paducah-Based Crisis Center Reminds Community They Are Open As Domestic Abuse Is Expected To Rise
During this time of isolation due to COVID-19, individuals may be at higher risk for facing domestic abuse, according to a local domestic violence crisis center.
Mary Foley, executive director for theMerryman House Crisis Center, says with schools and places of employment closing their doors, domestic abuse survivors and children may have lost their outlet to voice concerns of their home situation. But her organization serves individuals fleeing domestic abuse situations in Kentucky’s Purchase region, even now.
Foley said while people are required to keep their distance, members of the communities need to strive to check in on one another and report any unsafe and violent living circumstances in the area.
“People are going to be needing more than ever, eyes and ears inside the home, and so I think what I would like to encourage people to do is not to forget that home isn't safe for everyone,” Foley said. “We're standing ready to serve, we're going to be open. So make sure that you are utilizing those services if you need them for yourself or if you need them for someone else.”
The Merryman House provides life saving services to individuals fleeing an abusive situation to both residential and non-residential clients. Residential clients and their children are housed at an emergency shelter location. All clients receive personal and legal counseling and three meals a day.
During the outbreak, Foley said Merryman House is operating on a “Pandemic Response Plan.”
“As we know, domestic violence doesn't stop for COVID-19, but we do have to alter our services,” Foley said. “What we know that folks can expect without interruption are those emergency shelter, emergency hotline, and food services.”
This plan still allows for the organization to provide their usual counseling services through telehealth and telecommute, she said.
“Lots of those folks that are still needing to talk to their advocate or somebody that they're connected with through our agency. So, we've spent a lot of hours getting ready for this,” Foley said. “Our advocates think we've made a way for all to be available via a telehealth option. So they can video telehealth on a computer, or they can do a smartphone app. So, we are still going to be working with folks to execute those case plans.”
However, third party resources are expected to be held up during the pandemic. Foley said she suspects the biggest interruption to clients will be the Housing Authority.
“If we needed to do a section eight verification, or if we needed, you know, a unit to be inspected to meet HUD standards before we could move folks that might be interrupted.” Foley said. “So we'll do all that we can to work with other partners in our community, but certainly some things that require face-to-face signatures or face-to-face appointments are going to be delayed.”
She said the outbreak which recently reached the western Kentucky region could potentially halt the flow of residential clients in the emergency shelters; housing stabilization is a vital part of the Merryman House’s services.
According to Foley, the emergency shelters are still going to welcome victims fleeing domestic abuse during the coronavirus outbreak. However, physical health evaluations will be performed before they are permitted to enter emergency shelter campuses.
The Paducah campus is closed to visitors, but donations are still needed. Donations will be accepted through a drop off system.
The Merryman House expects needs to rise as individuals and children find themselves home all day. Foley said specifically, needs for meals and other necessities will increase. There will be updates on The Merryman Housefacebook page listing items and services most needed to keep the crisis center open.