TOLEDO, Ohio — Domestic violence victims are at an increased risk of suicide and isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. However, new technology is giving survivors access to services that can make a big difference.
The mass stay-at-home and quarantine orders has left many domestic violence survivors potentially suicidal. According to the suicide prevention branch at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, survivors of intimate partner violence are twice as likely to attempt suicide multiple times.
"When people are alone and isolated, they tend to dwell on more problems. If they are in an abusive relationship, there is not always the time for the family to see an injury or to see something in the school systems. So the pandemic has put a strain on social support services," Zepf Center CEP Deb Flores said.
The Zepf Center is a non-profit behavioral health center that provides mental health and addiction treatment. They serve youth and adults and provide a full continuum of care that includes housing, group homes, and vocational services.
The center received a $1.8 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in July after applying for the grant.
They're partnering with Bethany House and the YWCA of Northwest Ohio to provide telehealth systems on-site for survivors so they can be connected to critical psychiatric, therapy and case management services.
"Transportation is a barrier so having telehealth on-site eliminates that barrier and helps connect people to providers that can help meet some of their needs," said Rachael Gardner, director of domestic violence shelter and rape crisis services at YWCA.
"Another part of the grant we're excited about is a community awareness campaign that we'll be developing and kicking off to help domestic violence victims know there's help available and also to know the risk of mental health implications of domestic violence," Bethany House Executive Director Deidra Lashley said.
The telehealth system is currently up and running at YWCA located at 1018 Jefferson Ave but will be installed at Bethany House within the next few weeks.
The grant funds are allocated through November 2021 but the program is designed in a way the services will be able to continue once the grant ends.
If you, or someone you know or suspect is experiencing domestic violence (DV), please encourage them to first remain safe, and secondly, when they are in a safe place, reach out to a DV advocate for support, services, and/or safety by reaching out to the YWCA of Northwest Ohio at 419-250-7812 or 1-888-341-7386, where there is always a live advocate waiting to assist them.