Don’t let violence become the new normal


Kathy Manning Executive Director The Family Shelter of Southern OK, Inc.

The world anxiously awaits as the leading health experts work tirelessly to find a vaccine for the current pandemic that is sweeping through the smallest rural villages to the largest bustling cities around the globe. We continue to hear of the physical impact that the novel Coronavirus can have on the human body, but are we fully aware of the emotional impact? I am not referring to the virus itself but rather, the resulting constrains of what has, for the last five months, become our “new normal.” As a clinical social worker who has specialized in working with survivors of trauma, I have witnessed the post-traumatic client struggle to regain his/ her footing following a horrific event but what happens when the trauma is ongoing? What do we as individuals experience when the trauma doesn’t appear to have a known end in sight, a stopping point? The human race is experiencing a collective and chronic trauma as we must navigate on a daily basis how to live in an infected world. The constant and unrelenting health hypervigilance can take an extreme emotional toll on even the most well-adjusted, mentally fit individual but what occurs for the health and in the homes of the already vulnerable? According to The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, almost four in ten women in Oklahoma have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime and recent trends across the globe have shown that this number may increase in the wake of the multiple stressors caused by the pandemic. Factors such as job loss, financial strain and forced isolation have created a perfect storm to exacerbate the violence in homes where abusers are already utilizing power and control over their victims. We at the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma have been working daily to adjust our services to fit the ever-changing needs of our clients amidst the pandemic. Survivors are facing new challenges in an age of quarantining with their perpetrators and we are doing our best to continue to serve them with safety and confidentiality always remaining priorities. Our advocates are working with clients in a remote capacity while continuously assessing needs for whether in-person sessions are necessary. We are still taking on new clients throughout the pandemic for all of our completely free services which include individual advocacy, individual counseling, group education support, group counseling support, court advocacy, and emergency shelter. Please contact our 24-hour crisis line at 580-226-6424 if it is safe to do so or connect with us via Facebook messager at The Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma.