Harmony House and Victim Center see increasing call volume

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SPRINGFIELD, Missouri – Harmony House is currently at full capacity, having to turn people down because there just isn’t enough room for them.

“We have always had a problem with domestic violence in our area,” said Harmony House Executive Director Lisa Farmer. “It hasn’t changed.”

Harmony House is the only domestic violence shelter in Springfield. He has started to see an increase in the number of survivors seeking shelter recently.

“Initially, when we as a country and as a community were locked up there was a lot of fear that the victims would now be trapped with their abuser because they couldn’t go to work or maybe they were losing their job, ”Farmer said. “People who may have been isolated with their abuser are now returning to work or they can get out a bit more so they can ask for help. “

Harmony House receives 6-7 calls a day to ask if they have any open beds. Originally, each room housed four people. Now there is only one person per room.

“It’s very unusual for us to have a bed open for more than a day or two. Most of the time, they’re not even open for a day or two.

If survivors are unable to seek shelter, there are many safety planning tips they can use.

“Maybe you can have a code word that you can set up with them when you call up and say ‘I really want pineapple tonight. “They know, hey, my friend is in danger or whatever you discussed,” Farmer said. “If you can collect some of your personal documents like ID, important papers that you can keep with a trusted friend or family member, you will have access to it when you leave. When you leave, you may be able to set aside some money to be ready to go safely and have resources.

Farmer said it’s also important to know how to defuse a potentially violent situation.

“If you see a situation escalating in your household, avoid rooms that contain items that can be used as weapons by your attacker,” Farmer said.

For the Victim Support Center and the Maison de l’harmonie, safety is a top priority.

“The number one question we ask someone when they call the victim support center is whether you are safe,” Bartel said. “After answering this question, depending on the degree of risk of fatal situation. We really take a holistic look at what kind of safety plan can we help the survivor create. “

The victim support center saw a 24% increase in call volume, with most survivors seeking refuge. But accommodation after shelter can be difficult to find.

“Accommodation once people leave the shelter is really one of the biggest stumbling blocks,” Farmer said. “People are staying in shelters longer than they need to be here because we cannot move them out of permanent, affordable and secure housing.

Most people stay at Harmony House for about 50 days. In 2019 and 2020, most stayed 47 days. The main problem is finding affordable housing for people today.

“Rent in our local market and every market has skyrocketed,” Farmer said. “Housing prices have gone up. While we have been able to help individuals find rental accommodation for $ 550 or $ 650 per month, these may no longer be available.

Once a survivor leaves a shelter, they tend to move to transitional housing. This facilitates the transition from a shelter to a long-term residence.

“I think transitional housing is still a valuable resource that we may not have enough of in our community,” Bartel said. “This is affordable housing that would make it easier to transition from a shelter to some long-term residence. “

The main message agencies want to let survivors know is that help is still available even if shelters are full.

“There are resources for people to navigate to healing and deal with the trauma they are going through because these things don’t go away on their own,” Bartel said. These are real things that people sometimes struggle with for the rest of their lives. “

“Even though we don’t have a bed available, we can help them plan for their safety,” Farmer said. “We can help them discuss ways to try to stay safe while living in this situation and come up with a safe plan to exit the situation. “
Agencies want survivors to feel they have options when it comes to helping.

Be sure to let survivors know that they are not alone.

“A lot of survivors who left before you have been successful,” Farmer said. “Let us help you. You can do it. You don’t have to live your life this way.

La Maison de l’Harmonie suggests that people looking for shelter call 417-864-7233 every day and see if there is a bed available. The Victim Support Center answers calls regarding sexual violence, domestic violence, child abuse and other situations at 417-864-SAFE (7233). All services at Maison Harmonie and at the Victim Assistance Center are free.


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