As the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread throughout Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties, WoMen’s Rural Advocacy Programs, Inc. is adjusting their services to meet the ongoing needs of domestic abuse survivors in area communities.

“Crime victim services have been deemed an essential service and must continue to be offered,” said Becci tenBensel, the WRAP executive director. “At this point, it is important to let victims and survivors of domestic violence know that our advocates are still here and want to help. The way our available resources are delivered may look a little different, but emergency and support services are still being provided.”

WRAP continues to provide core services including a 24-hour phone and text line, individual and legal advocacy (assistance with restraining orders), safety planning, emergency housing services and support and connection to other local resources.

In response to COVID-19, WRAP has expanded communication options for victims to address increased barriers they may encounter when reaching out to an advocate for help. They may choose to use options such as video conferencing, texting and e-mail.

As victims of violence are quarantined or trapped at home with an abusive partner, it may be even more challenging to find the privacy to call WRAP for help. If someone needs to speak to an advocate, they can text or call 800-639-2350 or e-mail any of the following addresses:

• lyon@letswrap.com (Lyon/Lincoln County)

• redwood@letswrap. com (Redwood County)

• ymadvocate@letswrap. com (Yellow Medicine County).

“Many of the victims and survivors are experiencing increased hardships because of COVID-19. The stay-at-home order puts more strain on relationships and in turn, intimate partner violence will more than likely increase”, said Mandy Heibel, WRAP regional housing advocate.

Currently, WRAP staff is reporting that most of the individuals reaching out are looking for help with housing, transportation, access to the internet and legal assistance. Unfortunately, with libraries closed, there is less access to the Internet to file for unemployment or find services.

Victims are sharing that they are unable to stay with friends or family as they have in the past because of social distancing measures, and, since there isn’t a single domestic violence shelter located in southwest Minnesota, there is less access to emergency temporary shelter for victims.

WRAP can assist to address these barriers. The advocates are trained to help victims /survivors identify and prioritize their needs and then they will walk alongside of every one of them to connect with resources as they seek safety for themselves and for their families.

It is important for everyone to know that the stay-at-home order does not prevent people from relocating to ensure their safety. Staying home does not need to mean staying in an unsafe home.

WRAP’s services are free and confidential and are available to all victims of domestic violence.

Those who have questions or would like to find out more about WRAP and the services it provides, are encouraged to call (507) 532-9532, (507) 532-2350 or 800-639-2350 (crisis and text line) or visit its Web site at www.letswrap.com.

- Image courtesy of the Internet Public Domain