The Crisis Line at “A Safe Place” is ringing a lot more these days, a possible result of Covid-19. “We went from 14 calls a week to 103,” said Damaris Lorta, Chief Development Officer of the Zion-based organization committed to helping victims of domestic violence. “We have gone from housing 33 adults and children in emergency shelter to 81.”
Local incidents of domestic violence are part of a larger national problem that results in about 20,000 calls a day to domestic violence hotlines across the country.
Covid can contribute to the isolation that abusers sometimes use to exert power and control over potential victims. This can lead to physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial violence. Victims can be dealing with the trauma of threats, actual abuse and the related issues of homelessness, joblessness, financial and food insecurity, as well as murder and suicide. “Tragically, many times children are harmed,” adds Lorta.
While domestic violence potentially affects all families in all communities, military families have the additional pressures of long and frequent deployments, and the re-entry challenges of departed spouses or partners coming home.
What should someone do if they are experiencing domestic violence, or if they fear that they or their loved ones could be at risk? Call the Crisis Line at “A Safe Place” at 1-847-249-4450.
“Our crisis line is available 24/7,” Lorta said. “We listen and assess the need. Sometimes that’s emergency shelter or more permanent housing. Sometimes it’s an “Order of Protection” to legally restrict access. Sometimes our clients need counseling or a support group. Our goal is to provide a continuum of care.”
“A Safe Place” hosts emergency housing, transitional housing and permanent housing. It provides crisis counseling, individual, family and group therapy and life skills training that includes financial literacy.
“A Safe Place” works with other organizations around Lake County to help clients get what they need. These organizations include Catholic Charities, Lake County Housing Authority, the Lake County State’s Attorney Office, Prairie State Legal Services, Naval Station Great Lakes Fleet and Family Services Support Center, Nicasa Behavorial Health Services, Community Youth Network Counseling Center, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center and Zacharius Sexual Abuse Center.
Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation is one of the many Lake County-based organizations that works with “A Safe Place”. “It literally moved the mom and kids I was working with from fear into safety,” said LCVFSF peer specialist Bob Gorman.
Collaboration among organization also takes the form of a speaker’s bureau and educational symposiums sponsored by “The Partnership for a Safer Lake County”. It’s a group of about 30 organizations and individuals committed to addressing issues ranging from child and elder abuse to LGBTQ crimes, immigration and human trafficking. The audiences include schools, churches, businesses and community groups. The goal is to share information about the root causes of issues and the effective responses to each of them.
“A Safe Place” seeks not only to care for those already harmed by domestic violence. “We want to prevent future abuse through education and intervention programs,” Lorta said. “We are encouraging a whole-community response so that we can ultimately break the cycle of domestic violence.”