So many of us are looking at much of the world differently these days as we confront a number of fundamental changes and pressures we have never faced before.
Of course, the pandemic has affected so much of our day-to-day lives. Things we used to take for granted, like a trip to the grocery store or our kids going to school, are now more complicated and, at times, even fraught with uncertainty.
At the same time, we are facing additional life-altering issues, such as climate change. There is the onslaught of drought and related forest fires as well as the severity of storms and resulting flooding. Layer on top of that the striving for social justice that has come to the fore so close to home over the past few months and it’s easy to understand how so many of us are feeling anxious or even disoriented.
Now just imagine how the stressors we are all experiencing are magnified for victims of relationship violence. The sense of chaos can be amplified. Seeking safety and finding resources for the family can be much more difficult.
Clients who have survived their relationship-violence situations can also face hurdles that can affect their mental health. Getting back on one’s feet can be more difficult given today’s additional financial pressures. When children are learning virtually, robust internet connection is critical and there is also a need for more internet-connected devices. At the same time, the pandemic may bring about job insecurity.
There is also a significant impact on the justice system. There can be advantages for victims since childcare may not be an issue when hearings are conducted via Zoom. It may also feel safer not to be in the room as the perpetrator. However, internet access and sufficient bandwidth may be problematic and not being physically present with advocates can have its drawbacks for our clients.
You may not be surprised to learn that the cumulative impact of these various factors can lead us to adapt and reevaluate the services we provide and how we provide them.
At HOPE Center, this reevaluation includes reviewing aspects of our organization through a different lens, determining how to do the best job possible with the resources we have. I’d even venture to say that we are approaching some things in entirely new ways in order to best serve our clients and our community as a whole.
A fundamental challenge HOPE Center faces currently is how to remain effective while the ground continually shifts beneath our feet. It would be one thing if the trends we are experiencing were constant or predictable. However, that’s not the case.
We are confident that the pandemic will eventually be controlled and its impact on our day-to-day lives minimized or eliminated. However, our world is going to be vastly different because of the experiences we will have had and the things we will have learned.
In the meantime, we need to deal with the ambiguity as best we can. Our focus will remain on our clients — listening to them deeply, respecting them completely and supporting them effectively.
Erica Staab-Absher is executive director of the HOPE Center. Reach the center at 507-332-0882.