Crisis center continues to provide services

By: 
Terrance Vestal
Managing Editor

While the current “Stay At Home” orders statewide as well as locally might be in place to keep residents healthy, their unintended consequences could be putting others in harms way, according to Matthew O’Connor, executive director of Wild Iris Family Counseling and Crisis Center.
“For people experiencing domestic violence, the stay at home order has trapped many in homes with their abuser while at the same time isolating them from people who can help and community resources like Wild Iris,” O’Connor stated in an email. “The crisis has made it more difficult for people to seek help generally. Abusers are using the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to further isolate those they abuse from friends and family, and are threatening to throw people out on the street so they get sick.”
O’Connor stated that Wild Iris is operating and serving the community through the crisis. To maintain social distancing measures, Wild Iris staff have closed their physical offices for the time being and are working out of their homes.
“Our emergency services are fully operational and we are providing safe haven emergency shelter for those fleeing domestic violence,” he stated. “Our 24-hour crisis hotline is always available and anyone seeking services can call (877) 873-7384.
O’Connor stated the best way to support Wild Iris at this time is to make a donation through the agency’s website https://wild-iris.org/get-involved/donate.
“During the public health crisis we all have an immense responsibility to reach out to the most vulnerable, and this certainly includes our friends and family who are in abusive relationships,” he stated. “Walk-in services may no longer be available, but phone and digital communications are still working. When it’s safe to call, Wild Iris’ 24 hour crisis hotline is always available.”
April happens to be Child Abuse Prevention Month, an issue also impacted by the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of children and families in our community and nationwide,” he stated. “School closures and movement restrictions are disrupting children’s routines and support systems. Many children who suffer child abuse are now trapped at home with people who harm.”
O’Connor stated that Wild Iris, CASA of the Eastern Sierra and a number of the organization’s community partners had been working on the Resiliency Symposium and a number other initiatives for Child Abuse Prevention Month, which have had to be postponed or canceled. Wild Iris is now adapting to learn how the agency can best reach children and families through a number of online resources.
O’Connor suggested that throughout the month those interested can follow Mono Strengthening Families, First 5, Wild Iris and CASA of the Eastern Sierra on Facebook for information and events where “we can all get connected and support one another.”
Wild Iris is dedicated to promoting a safer community by empowering and restoring the independence of those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Its vision is for non-violent relationships based on dignity, respect, compassion and equality.
The Wild Iris service area is all of Inyo and Mono counties, including Death Valley and Tecopa regions and Coleville/Walker, north to the Nevada state line. Wild Iris offers an array of prevention and intervention services. Its services are provided at no charge and are completely confidential.

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