Interview: LifeWire's Mission to Put a Stop to Domestic Violence

By Sweeney Conrad, PS | Jul 23, 2020

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LifeWireDomestic violence is often a silent issue. With the rise of COVID-19, survivors are struggling at an even greater rate. This week we caught up with Kelly Becker, Development Director of LifeWire, to learn more about their mission to end domestic violence, how COVID-19 has affected their efforts, and how the community can help.

SC: Tell us about LifeWire's mission.

Kelly: Our mission is to end domestic violence by changing individual, institutional, and societal beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that perpetuate it. Domestic violence is a human rights issue. LifeWire envisions a world in which every person lives in a safe environment, free from oppression and with the opportunity to thrive.

SC: How has COVID-19 effected your mission?

Kelly: COVID-19 had an impact on our operations, our surivovors, and our funding.

    • Operations: COVID-19 has affected LifeWire in a myriad of ways. On March 6, LifeWire's staff transitioned to remote working conditions, while continuing to provide compassionate services to domestic violence (DV) survivors, children, and their families. Eight essential staff members continue working on-site between our main office, our emergency shelter, My Sister's Home, and our transitional shelter, My Friend's Place.

      LifeWire's priority is to care for the health and safety of staff while maximizing our flexibility and responsiveness in serving survivors of domestic violence. Our Operations Department has created carefully researched recommendations for returning to normal work operations. As of July, we have not cut services or staff, although we are concerned about the long-term impacts on programming/staffing/funding. 

    • Impact on Survivors: Survivors of DV continue to struggle to meet their basic needs, and the challenges faced by survivors remain similar to those encountered in March when the pandemic hit. Many of the survivors we work with are employed in the food or hospitality industries and are still laid off or are working drastically fewer hours. They are worried about how they will pay rent, which was already difficult for them before the pandemic. Other survivors anticipate the loss of income due to any combination of illness, childcare needs, layoffs, and cut hours. Our low-income survivors and families in our Housing Stability Services are asking for help to pay their rent and utilities, and do not know how they will feed their families.

      Before the pandemic, survivors were often able to escape a violent situation by staying with a friend or family member, staying at a shelter, or obtaining a restraining order. The stay-at-home order limited mobility for survivors, and also eliminated the ability to seek help while their abuser was out of the house. The inability to leave their home or socialize in public has created new, increased tensions within the home.

      To mitigate these challenges, LifeWire's advocates are finding creative solutions to help survivors and families in need. Survivors can stop by the office as needed (and scheduled) to meet with their advocate to pick up necessities such as food, diapers, and toiletries. We have been purchasing e-gift cards for online necessities for families who do not have access to safe transportation, or who have health concerns that prevent them from leaving home to obtain basic needs such as food, diapers, wipes, or medicine. Advocates are also experiencing an increased demand for services, such as urgent requests for help obtaining emergency Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs). Legal Advocates have gone from filing four DVPOs per week to 12 per week for survivors facing extreme violence. We are also answering requests and providing information to hospitals and the King County Courthouse, which has reported an increase in requests for DV resources.

    • Funding Concerns: We have lost a steady stream of revenue because we were not able to host our largest fundraising event, the World of Hope Gala & Auction, in May. We canceled our LifeWire Breakfast and rescheduled to a virtual Gala & Auction on Saturday, October 24.

SC: How can we (the community) help?

Kelly: Due to COVID-19, this is an extremely challenging time for survivors of domestic violence. Survivors who are sheltering in place with an abusive partner are in danger of escalating violence. Others are struggling to meet their basic needs. Those who have left abusive partners worry that the loss of income will leave them with no choice but to return to their abusers, especially if they have children. As calls to our 24-Hour Helpline and our advocates increase, we know that survivors are struggling to meet their basic needs, and the demand for our services is rising exponentially.

Getting involved: You can make a difference whether you make a contribution to LifeWire, have time to share a quick message in support of survivors, attend our World of Hope Gala & Auction, or make the decision to take on a rewarding volunteer role.

Attend an event: LifeWire hosts two fundraising events each year—our World of Hope Gala & Auction and our Breakfast. Visit our events page for more information on how you can attend or get involved.

Volunteer: LifeWire is grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who bring energy and compassion to the work of ending domestic violence. Direct Service Volunteers work with survivors of domestic violence and their families. Our comprehensive 20-hour training program, offered at least once a year, prepares volunteers to help survivors dealing with the trauma of family violence. Volunteer opportunities include co-facilitating children’s support groups, partnering with advocates to research community resources, and providing court accompaniments. Support Volunteers provide LifeWire staff with valuable fundraising, administrative, and professional help. No specialized training is required. Support volunteer opportunities include assisting with our Holiday Shop, serving on an event committee, or putting your professional talents to work.