• May 31, 2020

Pandemic cranks up stress - Odessa American: Local News

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Pandemic cranks up stress

Pros cite hikes in domestic violence, drugs and alcohol use

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Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2020 8:30 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic is whipping up consternation everywhere, including homes where parents and children are together all day every day and the woes of domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse worsen.

Add financial pressures and things can get explosive.

Nancy Vanley, ECISD’s executive director of guidance and counseling, says the district started its “Help Line” March 25 with counselors and social workers at the other end in the expectation it could be crucial.

Operated from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, it is at 432-456-HELP (4357). PermiaCare takes up the calls during off hours.

Not just concerned with the three aforementioned issues, the ECISD people are also interested in assisting “with basic needs” like job loss, payment of rent and utilities and the provision of household items like toothpaste and toilet paper, Vanley said.

If they can’t help, they refer callers to agencies like Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army.

Vanley said Wednesday that more than 40 calls were taken in the first week.

Since the schools shut down March 16, the district has been dispensing meals for families at most campuses between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays and had been providing weekend meals on Fridays.

They have a virus-protective method of handing them over when you drive up either with your child 18 or under with his or her ECISD student I.D. card or birth certificate.

There’s a lot more stress now with people being in their homes for extended periods,” Vanley said. “It’s the entire situation from teaching kids at home to the financial issues people are having. It’s a difficult time that could lead to increases of child abuse, domestic violence and substance abuse.

We’ve had calls where they were having anxiety about the current situation, frustrations with technology and needing assistance. We try to get them whatever resources they need.”

Crisis Center of West Texas Executive Director Lorie Dunnam concurred that more bad things occur in such times. “Usually there is some sort of respite during the day when the partner is at work, so this increases their exposure to the possibility of violence,” Dunnam said

It’s more than usual now with the increased tension of economic stresses and other stresses, but I always point out that stress in itself is not a cause of violence. Violence is more about power and control and it’s a calculated decision in a lot of cases.”

Dunnam said the center had 35 women and children in its emergency shelter Wednesday and that last year it did outreach counseling for 700 clients in Gaines, Andrews, Ward, Winkler, Pecos, Reeves, Loving, Crane and Ector counties. Its 24-hour hotline is 1-866-627-4747.

We’ve seen an increase in people requesting services, but the Odessa police have just started their lethality assessment protocol where they do intensive screening after domestic violence calls,” Dunnam said. “So in this early stage, it’s hard to piece out whether that has caused the increase or it’s the situation a lot of people in our community are in.

We do know that if they’re home together with more exposure to one another, that naturally provides more opportunities for violence and drug and alcohol abuse.”

Odessa, TX

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