SARATOGA SPRINGS — As some individuals embraced Covid-19 stay-at-home restrictions placed over the community, tensions in families and couples living at home can worsen to create an un-safe environment as time goes on.
Those dealing with domestic violence are under duress as many survivors are locked down with their abusers. Maggie Fronk is the executive director of Wellspring, a social service dedicated to support survivors and engage the community to end relationship and sexual abuse. As tension, stress and abuse situations escalate with the abuser and victim staying home 24/7, Fronk shared ways to create a safe home situation.
“Everyone’s situation is different. I think everyone who is in that situation knows their circumstances best, but I’d really like them to know that they are not alone,” Front said.
Parents who may discover rising tensions and diminishing patience are recommended to take a step back. Fronk said spreading love is important for parents who experience added stress from schooling their kids at home. Taking a break from the rules, and giving love to their children and themselves allows individuals to take a step back and breathe.
“It’s important to know that this is a new normal…I think none of us can strive for the level of performance we had before. It’s important to maintain some routines and also to relax them if we need to,” Fronk said.
The want and need to know what’s happening out in the world can add stress. Fronk said setting times to disengage from phones and computers is important to take a step back.
“Just to do something in the moment. It may be starting a new routine, going for a walk outside, playing a family game or cooking something different. Like having dessert first at dinner,” Fronk said. “It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of this, so we have to build in those moment that refresh and renew us.”
Although life may be different when it comes to navigating an abusive situation during COVID-19, Wellspring still offers their services. Supportive services such as advocacy and case management, crisis intervention and financial empowerment are different areas Wellspring can help in. For individuals who are dealing with relationship abuse, Fronk recommended calling their hotline to chat with an advocate.
“Sometimes, all people need is some support. Our hotline is not just for crises, it’s for information if you want to explore what’s happening at home or to discover if a [situation] is domestic violence,” Fronk said. “I don’t believe a lot of people think to call unless there is physical abuse, but there are all kinds of power and control.”
Emotional control and social-isolation are some of ways an abuser might hold control over their victim. Survivors who had abusers in jail gain another level of fear and complications as those inmates were released in New York and other states. Even as stress levels rise, Fronk said calling in can alleviate stress and help an individual navigate their situation.
However, Fronk pointed out that with children studying from home, calling in might not be easily available for parents. In response to this, Wellspring created a web-based chat line. The web-chat can be accessed at Wellspringcares.org, and allows individuals to “talk” to an advocate. The chat is available during the workday, but hours are also offered from 9 p.m. to midnight. Fronk said the chat line helps individuals who are not able to place phone
calls or communicate better through typing.
“That’s after when kids have gone to bed where you could just be on your computer and getting the support you need,” Fronk said. “With all of our services, you can find out what we can help you with.”
Self-isolation creates social-isolation, placing a pause on relationships outside the home environment. As those relationships grow distant, Fronk said individuals who know of someone in an abusive situation are welcomed to call in. Wellspring services are confidential and free of charge.
Knowing if and when to leave an abusive relationship changes based on each situation. However, Fronk recommended simply calling their hotline can help individuals.
“Many people don’t reach out for help because they don’t know everything that’s available. You don’t have to be thinking about leaving to call us. You can just want to explore what your options are so you have a plan A and a plan B,” Fronk said.
Wellspring also helps individuals with basic needs such as food and housing. Fronk said Wellspring offers rent subsidized housing for those dealing with abuse. Individuals can also get help dealing with courts to get safety, including gaining an order of protection.
Most importantly, however, is that Wellspring allows individuals to explore their rights and options for assistance if it’s wanted.
“I want people to know that you’re not alone in this. There is help out there. I think people are afraid to call because they think it will start something where they will have to leave and they’re not ready to leave. We can just help you where you are to figure out how to get through this and know what supports there are. You don’t have to be in a crisis to call us,” Fronk said.
Wellspring hotline can be reached at 518-584-8188.