When “Safer at Home” Isn’t Safe
Rice Lake, WI (Embrace) -- COVID-19 and the “Safer at Home” orders have disproportionately impacted domestic and sexual violence victims in rural Northwestern Wisconsin. In addition to the stress, disorientation, and economic strain created by constant close quarters, closures, and isolation, the pandemic has also left victims and their children trapped at home with their abusers. “The severity of violence and risk of homicide victims face during coronavirus is worse,” according to Katie Bement, Executive Director at Embrace, the non-profit program providing safe shelter and advocacy services to domestic and sexual violence victims in Price, Washburn, Rusk, and Barron Counties. “Safer at Home” is not safer for everyone. It’s often more dangerous.
Embrace’s shelter and offices are open, and the front-line advocates are continuing to provide direct services and care for survivors 24 hours a day. Many of the crisis calls and reports Embrace is receiving show abusers’ threats have turned to life-threatening action. Sexual assault crimes, of both adults and children, are also increasing locally. “With the necessary social distancing measures in place, survivors don’t have privacy in their homes anymore nor access to the same support networks of friends and family they usually do.
That natural isolation and ability to easily control a victim in this environment only emboldens abusers,” says Bement. Honoring the social distancing and quarantine requirements has created new programming costs for the organization and safe shelter as well as increased costs to respond to victims’ emergency safety needs. “Embrace’s emergency relief fund for survivors is dwindling rapidly right now. We didn’t budget to address these unique needs this year, and our usual sources of fundraising, like our Men in the Kitchen event and our involvement with outdoor events and music festivals, are now cancelled,” says Bement.
Ben Dryden, of DrydenWire.com, and Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald with the Barron County Sheriff’s Department and Embrace’s Board of Directors, took notice of the escalating violence and need. “In 2019, domestic abuse was the only crime that increased in Barron County. And, now, COVID-19 is not only creating an onslaught of reports further spiking the violence, but the severity of that violence in our communities is growing,” reports Fitzgerald.
“We knew we needed to do something. So, we told Embrace we were doing a surprise fundraiser for them,” states Dryden.
“We wanted to help make up for Embrace’s loss of revenue because of coronavirus and contribute to their emergency relief fund that gets immediate funds to victims during these times,” explains Fitzgerald.
“Embrace is awesome. Their staff is incredible, and they’re still here. They can help folks in these situations. They need our support right NOW,” says Dryden. If you find yourself in the position to work from home, with your income uninterrupted, receiving a stimulus check you may not need, please make a tax-deductible gift to Embrace. “Donate to Embrace’s Go Fund Me, and then, comment—saying you donated—on DrydenWire’s Facebook Live hosted by Chris and me on Tuesday, April 28th at 8:30 a.m. You’ll automatically be entered in DrydenWire’s drawing where the winner gets to choose a small, local business or non-profit to receive the proceeds from next week’s Live show,” explains Dryden.
“Share Embrace’s Go Fund Me fundraiser with your family, friends, and colleagues. Be an ally. Raise awareness. Let’s do something together to end this horrific violence,” Fitzgerald implores.
Embrace’s Go Fund Me can be found online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-emergency-relief-for-victims-of-violence.
Embrace Services, Inc.: Embrace is the leading voice and comprehensive advocacy services provider for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the four-county service area of Northwestern Wisconsin. At Embrace, we provide unwavering support to survivors. Through education and awareness, we engage our communities and create multi-disciplinary partnerships to increase safety and equity advancing our mission of ending gender-based violence. We strive to create a courageous social change that will end all forms of oppression in our communities. Everyone deserves healthy communities and the support to thrive.
If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence or sexual assault, you are not alone! It is not your fault. Embrace is here to help. Contact Embrace for free, confidential advocacy and support at 1.800.924.0556 or text at 715.532.6976.