poses a different type of threat for victims of domestic violence.
While the nation has been following public health instructions to stay
home to stay safe, a “stay-at-home order” can be terrifying for many
victims of domestic violence and sometimes a death sentence.
While each community works to create the best safety net for their
residents who are victims of domestic violence, OVW supports the
coalitions of domestic violence service providers nationwide to stitch
together the resources in what becomes a patchwork quilt providing both
safety and comfort to victims of domestic violence.
The coalitions routinely join work together to share ideas about how
to better serve victims and keep survivors safe. During the pandemic,
these front-line domestic violence advocates had to be even more
creative than usual to help survivors while keeping themselves and their
own families safe from COVID.
In this week’s episode
of OVW’s podcast, called Patchwork which honors the diversity that is
bound together through deep caring for people in need, we talk to one of
the “chief comforters,” Deborah DeBare.
DeBare is the Senior Deputy Director of the National Network to End
Domestic Violence (NNEDV), a national membership organization that
represents state domestic violence coalitions. Deb began her journey to
comfort others as a volunteer at a battered women's shelter when she
was in college. Now she ensures that NNEDV keeps good communication
channels open across the field so that there’s a two-way flow of
information within the community of practice which includes government,
volunteers, tribes, rural areas, major metropolitan areas and more.
The challenges are diverse and complex. In Alaska, transportation is
challenging when flights that provide a lifeline to remote communities
have been cancelled due to COVID. In big cities, densely populated
shelters have required new approaches to keeping families safely
distanced to prevent the spread of disease while cleaning the facilities
has to be done differently. As some courts have closed, protective
orders have had to be issued without the typical requirement that a
victim appear in person. Counselors accustomed to helping survivors
face-to-face have had to learn to provide virtual support when their
client often was in the same home as the abuser.
As DeBare says in this week’s episode,
many lessons have been learned from the COVID-19 experience and she
says that the community of comforters and helpers is as resilient as the
survivors they assist in finding safety.
All of us at OVW are tremendously proud to help DeBare and her colleagues do their vital work.
As you listen, please know there are things you can do to help in your community.
If you know someone who's in an abusive relationship, the most
important thing to do is to reach out to them and let them know that
you're supportive and that help is available. And there may be ways you
can help raise awareness about domestic violence and to be part of the
solution in your community. You can find your local coalition on our webpage. Feel free to tell them that OVW sent you.