ROCHESTER, Minn. - People have been forced to be home a lot more over the past few months because of the coronavirus pandemic and KIMT is learning more people are reaching out to area shelters looking for help handling abusive situations.
The Women's Shelter and Support Center is getting a significant increase of calls coming in asking for help, but calls coming through the crisis line have decreased. That's because victims don't have the ability to get out and call right away. With the ongoing pandemic, some can't get in to their therapist or counselor, so they call the shelter for help. The Director of Youth and Community Programming, Jeannie Thompson, explained more male victims are calling in, requesting their services.
Even though the title of the shelter is geared towards women, they have always offered services and support to every gender. Thompson said they've recently added a male advocate to their team to help men feel more comfortable with calling in. She explained their goal is to reduce the stereotype that men always need to be strong and not show emotion. "There's a lot of stigma that they get from their peers, their family members about, 'well you're a guy, why can't you manage this?' And if you're trying to do the right thing for your family, you need support to be able to do that." said Thompson. "So it takes one phone call to say, 'hey, you know what? I need some support in this.'"
The shelter has been doing Zoom group sessions so anyone is able to access the services and that has helped eliminate barriers for some. Thompson said adding a male perspective to the team will be a huge benefit to everyone. "Well I think it offers another opportunity for people to receive services. We'll be able to provide support to other agencies in our community for people they're working with that might need this service as well," said Thompson. "So I think it's going to be a big asset for our whole area."
The Women's Shelter and Support Center crisis line is open 24/7. The number is (507) 285-1010.