By Missy Verdin & Melissa Greenwell
One of our values at Green Dot is helping people when they need help, which is why Maysville has grasped so firmly onto all that Green Dot stands for. Maysville holds the same values. Recently, we have seen so many examples of this value being lived out within our communities and want to celebrate that. People are making face masks to donate to healthcare professionals. Churches are donating and delivering meals to residents out of work. People working out of town are picking up supplies for others when out of stock locally. Educators are making personal phone calls to check up on their students and provide anything they need. Schools and community groups are offering curbside food pickups for children. Several restaurants are offering free meals to children in need. Residents are organizing bear hunts and drive by egg hunts to entertain stir-crazy families. Community members are offering pick up and delivery of grocery items to shut-ins. Local distilleries are making and delivering hand sanitizer to our front line respondents. Local businesses are gathering and donating food donations to the food bank. And the list goes on. Our little community has many needs ranging from small concerns to much larger ones and we, #teammaysville, are trying to meet the needs of all. While COVID-19 has blanketed our state in anxiety and uncertainty, we are leaning into the warmth of compassion and service and are excelling in combatting the effects of this virus.
The concerns of COVID-19 don’t just encompass unemployment, health, and mental health concerns, but also increased risks of domestic violence and child abuse. When we think of individuals living in an abusive relationship, we know that power and control are already at the core of that relationship. We know that an abuser uses power and control tactics to gain the upper hand in those relationships. One of the ways they do that is by isolating their victim from their support systems and their friends and families, who they turn to for the emotional support that they need when things are bad. Many victims make it through those explosive incidents by turning to that support system in those times of need for strength and guidance. So what if those people who they normally turn to were no longer there for them? As we talk about the effects that COVID-19 is having on our communities, those of us that work daily to serve the needs of those living in unsafe homes during times of normalcy can’t help but think of our clients – those that are truly feeling that there is no way to reach out for help during these times when they can’t see their support system or can’t even safely call our hotline for assistance without being overheard by their abuser. When we think of the stressors that healthy relationships have during a time of a national crisis such as unemployment, lack of child care, or a lessened support system we can easily see how that can be exacerbated in unhealthy relationships and things can turn lethal quickly. We have seen this play out historically during times of crisis before. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans saw an 81% increase to their domestic violence hotline during that time. Hurricane Katrina saw domestic assaults against women dearly double. So let’s not forget that even though most of us are safe at home during this time of social distancing, this is not what many in our communities are experiencing.
What you can do
Green Dot focuses on the belief that the greatest power is within each of us – the bystander. Through our actions and choices, we can decide what ultimately happens within our communities. As social distancing increases, our bystanding is made a little more sporadic and potentially a little more personal. What do you do if you hear your neighbors fighting to a level thats concerning? What do you do if you see a child at the store with clothing on that’s inappropriate for the weather? What do you do if you see a coworker on zoom with a busted lip? In these scenarios, we may bump up against a few personal obstacles – barriers that may prevent us from acting. Such as:
“I have to continue working with them, so what happens if I’m wrong?”
“What if my neighbor makes my life miserable because I did something about his spousal abuse?”
“What if the child gets punished more severely because I asked about their clothing?” These are all real concerns that may run through your mind when contemplating on acting. It can be awkward, uncomfortable, and down right difficult. So, how do we get around those barriers? No matter your barriers, there are choices you can make: the 3 Ds. You can be direct, delegate or distract. If your neighbors are fighting, maybe you can distract the situation and slip a paper under their door with some movie suggestions. If you see the child at the store, maybe you can be direct and engage the child in conversation about missing school (if they are school aged) then gain more information as you talk with them – from a 6 foot distance of course. And if your coworker shows up to your zoom meeting with an injury, maybe you can delegate to her boss and alert her to your concerns.
No matter where you are, no matter what our circumstances or barriers are, we can still do green dots and continue to take care of the people around us. Violence does not end just because we are home, and for some that’s quite the opposite. As #teamkentucky we are called to help others when they need help and are proving capable and committed to do just that.