Story by: Jasmine Anderson

Oklahoma is open for business as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, but some people may feel trapped inside their own homes.

The phone lines are busy at Palomar: Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center in Oklahoma City.

“We’ve got a lot a lot of calls where the clients are so distressed you actually can’t understand them,” said CEO Kim Garrett.

The organization is a one-stop-shop to help domestic violence and sexual assault survivors get back on their feet, with the help of various community agencies.

“We had 206 calls, and then we went up to 243, so it continues to go up,” said Garrett.

CEO Kim Garrett says while people are working to reduce the spread of the virus, avoiding crowds and working from home, it may not be the safest option for everyone.

“I think the virus is increasing isolation and there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of dynamics, violence in homes that are escalating,” said Garrett.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline says abusers are using the virus as a tool to control their partners by using the following tactics, but not limited to: sharing misinformation about COVID-19, discouraging the appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms, or even withholding necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.

You or someone you know can still get help. Although the coronavirus is reshaping how Palomar handles survivors. The staff has an option to connect with their clients through live chatting, and Garrett says its working.

“When you really look at its a client way of communicating so it really meeting them where they are,” said Garrett.

The non-profit also offers emergency services like groceries and cleaning supplies, with little to no contact.

“I think about people in crisis and they need help right now, and they can just drive up and get what they need easily and accessibly, it can reduce a lot of barriers for them,” said Garrett.

Garrett says the demand for services is significant in the metro. Palomar has served more than 11,000 unduplicated survivors since opening its doors 3 years ago.

For more information about Palomar, click on the link https://palomarokc.org/

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