New technology proves useful for YWCA domestic advocates amidst COVID-19

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — In the last two months, the YWCA’s Resolve Family Abuse Program has seen a decrease in the number of calls to their domestic violence crisis hotline. Usually, that would be great, but in a world where people are now being encouraged to stay home, possibly with their abusers, the result could be dangerous.

Early last month, they launched an online version of their hotline. This one can be accessed via a computer or cellphone. Instead of calling the hotline, you can online chat with a domestic violence advocate on your computer or cellphone.

Julie Haden, the executive director of the Resolve Family Abuse Program says it has been a helpful tool since their overall hotline call numbers have decreased.

“It’s been how we’ve received and pulled people in for about half of their intakes at the shelter in the last 6-8 weeks,” Haden explained.

According to Haden, the shelter numbers have stayed roughly the same. But overall, the number of people they have served is down dramatically from this time last year. Haden says this is because many people believe they can’t obtain a domestic violence petition because the courts are closed due to COVID-19.

“It is those people at court who don’t normally, wouldn’t call the police but they want to deal with a domestic violence petition on their own through the court,” she says. “It’s those people that we are missing and we know it.”

But that is not the case, domestic violence petitions and restraining orders are considered an “emergency” and can be obtained through help with the YWCA’s advocates. People in need can call the hotline or use the app. While its technically a “crisis” hotline, it can also be used to obtain information.

“We won’t keep track of you, we won’t keep your name or your number, we just want to help,” Haden says.

The YWCA provides services for the entire family in Kanawha, Clay and Boone counties. The number for the 24 hour domestic crisis hotline is 304-340-3549.

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