Sheree Keely is the executive director at Citizens Against Domestic Violence, a domestic and sexual violence shelter in Camdenton, Missouri.
She spoke about the crisis hotline the organization is continuing to run – from employee’s homes – and about how they’re doing their best to meet the needs of survivors in rural Missouri. She said that she believes calls will continue to increase in the weeks to come.
Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.
Sheree Keely: So, we talk a lot, as far as the staff, about the whole work-life balance, and how do you take care of yourself in the midst of working with situations where trauma is involved? Because we know that there's a secondary effect for the worker, when they're kind of dealing with things.
I will tell you the first thing that happened when the COVID situation came, is that it was like, “We need to get people out of the building. We need to get people safe.” We had some people that fell into the high-risk categories. So, those were the first ones that we really encouraged to stay home and, you know, take care of themselves and their health.
They – laughter – [The staff] were really going crazy not working. It was pretty hilarious. They would call and go, “Is there any end to this?” And so, when I called them to say, “Okay, I've got an idea. What do you think?” They – not one person said “No.” Not one.
They were like, they thanked me. They were overjoyed to be able – they love – the people that do this work, you do it because you truly have a passion to give back and because you care. So, it's a part of their life mission – that is the best way I can describe it.
So, they knew that victims would be struggling more in this situation, and yet they weren't able to help them, and so, when we provided an avenue for them to be able to help, they have been overjoyed. They truly have been grateful.
Rebecca Smith: So, have you been getting a lot of calls?
Sheree Keely: So, interestingly, when it first… I think for us, we're like in week five? So, at first, we were kind of surprised that the calls were very low – very low. Probably lower than normal. And, you know, I just kind of sat with that, and the only thing I could conclude was, you know, I think we were all kind of thrown for a loop for what was happening.
I mean, you know, I'm in my 60s and I've not lived through a situation like this. So, you're trying to figure out, you know, what does this mean? And how do you, you know, I mean, you're just trying to wrap your head around it, so I don't know if people were just trying to kind of get their wits that way, and so, that took precedence kind of?
If you think of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, you know, you got to get your basic needs met: where's my food and shelter coming from? Sort of thing. But once that got clear for them, now, starting last week, we are starting to get an increase.
And this week we're starting to see more. Much more. And my projection is that that's just going to continue to climb.
If you or anyone you know needs help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. For the Deaf Crisis Line videophone call 321-800-3323 or text HAND to 839863.
Or contact Citizens Against Domestic Violence directly at (888) 809-SAFE (7233) or 888-809-7233