“It wasn’t ideal but we made it work.”
Shine Advocate, Irka , sums up in a few words how our team helped domestic violence victims and their children during the lockdown.
“Everyone knew lockdown was going to be especially difficult for victims of domestic violence who would have little or no respite from their abuser, or opportunities to get help. We knew from overseas experience that there would be an escalation of family violence – and that it would be more severe and brutal than usual. And that is exactly what happened in New Zealand where Shine saw not only a rise in the number of referrals from hospitals, but also in increase in victims of sexual assault.”
As an essential service, Shine’s frontline staff of advocates continued their vital work, but lockdown itself presented unexpected challenges for all of our services.
Unable to meet victims face to face, our advocates had to rely on supporting adult victims by phone. Imagine the difficulty of having those conversations when the offender might be in the house or about to arrive home. We had to take great care not to endanger our clients still further.
Telephone conversations weren’t an option for our work with children, as they need face-to-face interaction and support. So our staff spent more time talking (by phone) to the protective parent to help him or her develop the tools needed for their children to understand what was happening to them, to help them cope and to work towards their healing.
In the first week of lockdown, we realised that even simple activities were no longer simple. Because of the restrictions, our access to basic essentials like clothing, toiletries, food, phones, and money for special baby formula and medications was hindered. Sometimes women who were placed in the safety of a motel had to wait, before we could get the essentials – clothes and food – delivered to her. Disturbingly, some clients who had fled with small children were unable to get groceries for themselves because lockdown restrictions did not permit them to take their children into supermarkets – but of course, they couldn’t leave them alone either.
Fortunately for victims, a number of wonderful individuals and organisations stepped up and were ready to help with donations of new goods, deliveries and transport.
Thanks to your incredible support, we are proud to have been able to provide the best care possible to victims of domestic violence throughout the lockdown.
While lockdown presented many challenges and our frontline staff are now relieved to be able to meet with clients face-to-face, we have also discovered new and better ways of doing things. Our experience has shown us the gift of a Prezzy cards helps to ensure our clients do not go without essential items.
Nevertheless, the impact of COVID19 on family violence will be felt for years to come. At Shine, we are expecting to see a continuing escalation of violence in the coming months and beyond. As disheartening as this is, we will not let it discourage from us from our mission of ending family violence in Aotearoa. Instead, we will redouble our efforts and work even harder.
We are so grateful for your continued support and commitment on our journey towards making every home violence free.