’Keeping safety first and foremost’: Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma continues to provide 24-hour services for domestic violence victims amid COVID-19 cancellations, concerns
Despite several closures in response to COVID-19, staff at the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma is continuing to work around the clock to ensure the safety of domestic violence victims.
Family Shelter Executive Director Kathy Manning said all services provided by the shelter are still available, it’s just how they are being provided that has slightly changed. Victims will still have access to protective orders, safety planning and the emergency shelter 24 hours a day.
“We are here and ready to serve, it just looks a little different — and that’s okay, most things are looking different right now but we want people to know that they don’t have to worry, we are still there,” Manning said.
Most services will be more phone-call based now, Manning said. The 24-hour crisis line will continue to operate as normal, at (580) 226-6424. Administration and advocacy offices will be open for emergency services only and in-person appointments will be made based on individual needs.
For those who are unable to make a phone call, Manning said there are other avenues they can use to contact victim advocates, such as reaching out for help through the Family Shelter’s Facebook page or through email at, email@example.com.
“That’s something that we’re seeing a little bit of, just being at a point where you’re not able to make a phone call,” Manning said. “It is a very trying time for victims. You have to recognize the fact that they are being quarantined in a physically and emotionally unstable environment and it’s very difficult to get out, it’s difficult to call, it’s difficult to find any way for help.”
As is common in times of crises, Manning said the shelter is expecting to see an increase in the intensity and frequency of abuse and is prepared for a potential spike in calls or messages.
Victim advocates are in the process of making safety plans with several individuals who are victims of domestic violence.
“We’re having really difficult conversations and trying to run through horrific scenarios unfortunately, but it is something that we’re doing and we’re just trying to keep everyone as safe as possible while all going through this pandemic,” Manning said.
At the emergency shelter, staff is working to disinfect the common areas every hour in order to maintain the 24-hour facility, Manning said.
“We’re doing what we can to keep everybody safe. It was kind of a scramble to begin with but my team is absolutely amazing,” Manning said. “They’re not only passionate about what they do, they’re extremely dedicated about what they do and because of that we have been able to adapt fairly smoothly.”
However, cleaning supplies, including masks and gloves, are beginning to run low with the frequency of cleaning at the shelter and Manning said donations from the community would be helpful to staff. “We’re going through supplies like crazy,” she said.
Donations can be dropped off at the administration office, located at 402 Pawnee NW in Ardmore, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The administration office can be reached at (580) 226-3750.
If you need support, contact the Family Shelter’s 24-hour crisis line at (580) 226-6424. Staff can also refer you to safe locations throughout the state.
Other resources include the Oklahoma Safeline at 1-800-522-7233 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
“It seems like every hour something new is coming down and we’re just kind of going with the flow, doing everything we can — keeping safety first and foremost,” Manning said. “It is all about them and what we can do to keep them safe.”