The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) hotline has always been “pretty busy” but consistent in its call volume, said WRC Crisis & Advocacy Services Director Anna M. Faramelli in a telephone interview last week.
“During the lockdown, our numbers just dropped right away,” she said. She said the drop in calls could be attributed to people being stuck in their homes with the people abusing them or perhaps people thought the WRC had closed during the state’s lockdown. “We never actually shut down,” Faramelli said. “Services never stopped. We want to let people know we are still available.”
Now that people are becoming more comfortable with dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, calls to the hotline (570-278-1800) have definitely increased, she said.
Callers leave a message with an answering service, which are returned by WRC staffers. Typically, there might be one message, “now they might have six or 10,” Faramelli said.
“A lot of what we are hearing is (situations) that are ongoing,” she offered, with individuals at home, additional responsibilities, containment in the same place, and not being able to have a break. “I think that just escalated.”
Many of callers are people who have been utilizing WRC services and are in continued need of support. But there are also new people seeking help from WRC. “People needed the opportunity to reach out and talk to a counselor, we recognize that not everyone who needed services (during the lockdown) was able to access those services and not able to make those calls.
Through the lockdown, WRC continued to offer services remotely, and are now in the process of slowly transitioning to have staff back in the offices.
Farmelli stressed that if someone needs to flee their home in order to be safe they can contact WRC for assistance.
“Statistically, we know only about 10 percent report (domestic abuse) to the police. In a non-pandemic world, that is a huge number of people that is not accessing services through law enforcement,” Faramelli said. Lackawanna County, which is also served by WRC, saw an increase in domestic calls to the police department, she said.
WRC takes referrals from local government agencies, law enforcement, non-profit organizations, and anyone who can “give a safe space to make that call.”
“We encourage everyone to share WRC information is they think someone can utilize our services,” Faramelli said.
Services include: a 24-hour hotline; emergency safehousing; and referrals to other agencies. Currently accompaniment services are on hold, but WRC is providing support counseling prior to court hearings to prepare clients; individual counseling sessions are being conducted via telephone; and group services will be offered once the agency is fully open.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, call the WRC hotline: 570-278-1800 or 1-800-257-5765; or call 2-1-1.