Women Helping Women phone support becomes a critical intervention and prevention tool

Please Note: The above image was taken before the coronavirus pandemic and do not reflect the organization’s COVID-19 social distancing protocols.

In late March, Governor Mike DeWine’s “Stay at Home” order became the new normal for many Ohioans, but for those who experience violence inside their homes it was proven to be a significantly harder challenge. Women Helping Women (WHW) focuses on crisis intervention and prevention in the areas of gender-based violence. Although survivors are predominantly women, WHW also provides support to men and the LGBTQ community.

COVID-19’s social limitations hindered the agency from leading many of their in-person programs like Domestic Violence Enhancement Response Team (DVERT). In partnership with the Cincinnati Police Department, DVERT allows a team member to be onsite right away to provide immediate and ongoing support to survivors. Programmatic support for domestic violence victims can range from hospital visits and on-site therapy to accompanying and providing guidance during court proceedings.

The COVID-19 Regional Relief Fund helped WHW adapt to new technology that supports survivors by meeting them virtually in isolation. It has kept their staff working productively, which is crucial to support the increase in calls to their 24-hour crisis intervention hotline. Recent requests for help have centered around security, food, safety, basic needs, and overall physical wellbeing.

"We are so grateful that the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund mobilized so quickly to provide immediate relief to our agency. We have been able to pivot to match the current climate and reach survivors when and where they need us most," says Emma Kamrass, WHW senior development manager. "Calls into our hotline have increased 30 percent since this pandemic began in our region, and this funding has been instrumental to fulfilling our mission of empowering all survivors."

The COVID-19 Regional Response Fund has distributed more than $7 million into the community to support residents who are most disproportionately affected by — and most vulnerable to — the health, economic, education, housing, and social impacts of the crisis.

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