Domestic violence shelters have seen a downturn in calls during the stay at home order across the state, but are bracing for a possible upswing in calls as social distancing continues.
The Crisis Center Foundation in Jacksonville has taken steps to continue providing services while practicing social distancing. The center closed their office in late March, and center personnel are now working from home.
Dona Leanard with the Crisis Center, says that all services are still being provided by the center to those in need.
“We have our phones forwarded to the state hot line, who then forward calls to our local on call staff. We have 24 hour coverage, the same as we had before, it’s just a different person answering the phone and forwarding it.
All of our full time staff are still working their normal hours, they are just working from home, and continuing to check on clients. We are still going to court with clients as needed, we are just completing everything over the phone.”
Callers to the Crisis Center will still be able to reach their local advocate while phones are being directed through the state hot line.
Leanard says that when the state hot line receives a call, their advocates will asses the needs of the caller and help with assisting them if possible.
“If the state reps can handle the caller’s issue, whether it’s a referral or whatever it is, they will handle it. If it is something that they can’t handle on their end, or it’s a request for shelter, or if it’s a client calling to get in touch with one us us personally, their advocate personally, then the state advocate will forward it to us.
They actually patch it through a three way call, to make sure the client is handed off in a safe manner so that they do not have to have a call back or take the chance of the call not forwarding or something like that. So they will do the three way call to make sure everyone is connected before they get off the phone.”
The Crisis Center is still providing shelter for those who are in danger, and will continue to accept victims of domestic violence who need immediate help.
Much like other areas in Illinois and the nation, calls to the Crisis Center hot line have decreased during the stay at home order and social distancing protocols.
Leanard says they are keeping an eye on the call volume both locally and nationwide.
“We have been in close contact with the local police departments and so far their call volumes have been down as well. But we fully anticipate and expect for the volume to increase the longer the stay at home order is in effect.
We are already seeing it in some of the larger cities. I was just reading a couple of articles last night and they were noticing an increase in the volume of calls.”
Leonard says with the possibility of people staying at home for a month or more, as tensions rise, so does the possibility of acts of domestic violence.
Vickie Smith, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says isolation is a tool abusers often use to maintain control over their victims.
She says with people staying at home to lessen the spread of COVID-19, “there’s more time for people to be together, creating the opportunity for volatile tempers to fly” and “there are also fewer opportunities for victims to reach out for help.”
Leanard says if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, that the Crisis Center is still here and able to help.
“Continue to call our hot line number at 217-243-4357, and it will be answered day or night, and you will be put in contact with an advocate that is local here, and then we will take it from there.
It is basically what we always do, it’s just one more step to get in contact with us, but you will get in contact with us if you call.”
Leanard says that if you are unable to call the center because of being in close proximity to an abuser during the stay at home order, you can reach center staff online as well.
“You can reach us through our Facebook page via messenger. We have had clients contact us through there and there are two of us who are monitoring that on a daily basis.”
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, call the Crisis Center of Jacksonville at 243-4357
You can find them on Facebook by searching Crisis Center Foundation