The executive director of a DeKalb County-based shelter that offers wraparound services to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual abuse says staff members have had to work double and sometimes triple shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anna Blau, executive director of International Women’s House Inc., says at one point, the nonprofit, which has been a compassionate haven for women since 1997, has had to operate with reduced staff due to the pandemic, all while tackling an increase in demands and services from families and individuals.
“We were getting an increase of 42% of calls to the shelter for help,” said Blau on Monday’s edition of “Closer Look.”
During the virtual conversation, Blau talked with show host Rose Scott about the tremendous challenges the pandemic has caused, funding cuts and how and why women and men in domestic violence situations struggle to get out of abusive relationships.
“We don’t judge anyone that comes in here,” said Blau, who is also a survivor of domestic violence. “A number of times, the victim will say, ‘Maybe I made a mistake, maybe I should give him another chance,’ and we don’t judge. If you feel that you want to give this person another chance, just have a safety plan in mind.”
Blau says International Women’s House offers several services — including food, shelter, medical and mental health and legal help — to adults and their children.
“It really varies on the needs of the individual,” Blau said. “We have people here for three months. We have people here for six months. It just depends. The type of women we see, many are undocumented.”
More information about International Women’s House can be found here. Georgia’s 24-hour hotline number for domestic violence is 1-800-33-HAVEN (1-800-334-2836).
To listen to the full conversation, click the audio player above.