Laura’s House has been quick to respond to COVID-19 and the ‘stay at home’ order, to best meet the needs for victims of domestic violence. As you probably have read in the News, this is an especially trying time for victims of abuse, when ordered to stay at home, and their home is simply not safe.
Laura’s House was quick to respond to the orders, knowing that victims of abuse and our community would be relying on us for the vital resources and services we provide. As soon as March 18th, our counseling and therapeutic services were converted to a telehealth format, with clients meeting with our therapists and legal advocates using a secure, on-line platform. Our Emergency Shelter was prepped and put into effect new policies and waiting periods for entering new clients, and our safety-net hotel night program ramped up, enabling us to help those in urgent need by offering them bed nights with one of our local hotel partners. From the week of March 16 when the ‘stay at home’ order was issued to the following week, we saw a 40% increase in calls to our 24 hour Crisis Hotline. We also made the decision to enable our Heart Chat, (Text and IM feature for teens) to be used for the general population, and provide another way for victims of abuse to reach out to us for help. Orange County Sheriff and Laura’s House Board Member, Don Barnes has reported that domestic violence related calls to the Sheriff’s Department are up 20% over last year at this time.
Laura’s House has felt the need to continue to educate the community about updates to our services and programs, and how this effects the population we serve. Education and prevention is paramount to Laura’s House. In mid-March, we created a Webinar series, in English and Spanish, to provide information to the community on various topics including; Social Distancing and the Effects on Victims of Abuse, Legal Advocacy and Services, Anxiety and Techniques for Coping and Building Resilience, and our latest, Bystander Intervention: How to help someone you know is being abused. Our Webinar series is hosted weekly, generally on Wednesdays, and can be found on our Facebook @laurashouseoc, LIVE at the time of the webinar, Zoom and as a post each week on our FB page. We also have our entire series on the Laura’s House YouTube channel. Laura’s House has also been busy offering out to teachers our teen dating abuse prevention workshop, H.E.A.R.T., Healthy Emotions and Attitudes in Relationships Today (as we do in the traditional classroom), now via Zoom classroom. We have had many high schools participate and great feedback from some of our teachers. “The presentation was very similar to the in-person version. Students were able to use the "chat" feature to ask questions and participate in meaningful ways. It was fun being able to see my students' participate in regular school activities even though they were at their own homes.” Gwen Harris – Teacher, El Toro High School
We have been very happy to have been approached by multiple media outlets to contribute to news stories to bring light to the effects the pandemic has had on victims of abuse. Most recently, Laura’s House was featured on the front cover of the Orange County Register (April 20), the article titled Coronavirus: The worldwide surge in domestic violence has come to Orange County is a larger story focused on the rise of DV-related calls during the pandemic and how local agencies and nonprofits are pivoting to provide those in need with support.
We are very grateful for your partnership and commitment to our mission. We hope to continue to work together to meet the needs of victims of abuse here in Orange County and our surrounding counties. We know that for many it is a difficult time to reach out, but together we will be ready and positioned to help, inspiring hope and empowering change for a life free of abuse.
We hope you are staying healthy and safe!
Director of Development & Communications