GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - — Local experts on abusive relationships say its critical for people to understand the signs and resources available in light of a recent case possibly connected to domestic violence.
Safe Haven Ministries nor the YWCA of West Central Michigan know the details of the specific case, but both organizations have experienced an increased need for help.
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According to Tara Aday, director of innovation and advocacy at Safe Haven, the number of crisis calls it receives has jumped to 200 per month, which is a year over year increase.
Aday attributed the increase in part to a text and online chat option that Safe Haven launched last fall, but also believes COVID-19 played a role too.
“It’s really hard to say why there are ebs and flows of domestic violence in very specific terms, but what we do know is that when individuals experience isolation, when a lot of social services don’t necessarily operate in the same ways that they did pre-pandemic, it creates an environment for abuse to thrive,” said Adam.
The YWCA of West Central Michigan estimates a 10 to 15 percent rise in its crisis calls and appointments since the pandemic began. The organization has also recently launched a new text option according to Tome Cottrell, chief programming officer.
“The trauma of domestic violence can certainly affect how someone navigates the world,” said Cottrell. “It can have that sense of hopelessness, that sense of being trapped. It impairs decision making.”
Cottrell stresses the importance of giving individuals information about resources. He suggests people concerned about their loved ones discuss the topic with empathy and never in the presence of an abuser.
“Often times the dynamics of domestic violence don’t allow victims to see those options and our efforts are designed to helping them see what’s in front of them and give them alternatives to enduring what is a hurtful relationship,” said Cottrell.
Aday added domestic violence includes a whole host of behaviors that somebody uses over and over to exert power and control, whether its physical, emotional, financial, or verbal abuse. She says a caring environment allows for people to come forward.
“Any time anybody is withdrawing, any time somebody is drastically changing in the way that they behave, I always that’s an invitation to get curious. ‘Hey, what’s going on? Can I check in with you?’” said Aday.
If you or someone you know needs help, both organizations have 24/7 help lines.
Call or text (616)452-6664 to reach Safe Haven Ministries or click hereto chat with an advocate.
To reach the YWCA of West Central Michigan, call or text (616)454-9922. To talk to an advocate, click here.