Domestic violence agency sees cases triple during pandemic; Wild Iris is there to help

By Terrance Vestal
Special to the Times

Last year, Covid-19 not only took a devastating toll on public health and the economy but on those in Mono and Inyo counties who were the victims of domestic violence, as cases of domestic violence tripled during the pandemic, according to the executive director of Wild Iris Family Counseling and Crisis Center.

Matthew O’Connor recently said Wild Iris, which offers domestic abuse prevention and intervention services, said in a typical year his agency serves between 550 and 600 individuals a year.

In 2020, that number soared as job loss, illness and economic hardship put immense pressure on families and individuals during the pandemic.

“We served nearly 2,000 since last March,” O’Connor said. “And the intensity of violence that we’ve seen has increased (as well).”

O’Connor said while the increase in numbers might be alarming, the incidents also can be put in the context of another challenge within the community.
He said what might not be so obvious is the impact that the increase in incidents might be having on the agencies that serve these clients.

“It’s also important to know that different agencies around the state are really struggling right now,” O’Connor said. “A lot of them are losing staff. A lot of them aren’t managed well. Their boards of directors are having issues.

“Wild Iris remains in service and we are going strong.”

• For more information about Wild Iris, call 760-873-6601.
• 24-Hour Crisis Line: 1-877-873-7384. This number is available 24/7 for times of crisis. Trained peer crisis counselors are available to provide immediate counseling, information and resources.
• Emergency shelter: Available for individuals who are fleeing unsafe situations.
• Safety planning: Trained peer counselors are available to assist in safety planning and provide you with valuable information to consider when you are in a dangerous situation, or are planning to leave an abusive relationship.
• Advocacy and court accompaniment: Wild Iris advocates can provide support during a time of crisis. At an individual’s request, an advocate can attend court dates, or appropriate appointments such as medical, social services, mental health, etc.
• Crisis Counseling & Support: One-on-one peer counseling is available and is designed to support those working through a crisis or an abusive situation.
• Information & Referrals: Peer counselors can help those who need information to locate community programs and resources that may benefit them during times of need. These may include referrals to medical services, children’s services, long term mental health services, food banks, parenting classes, employment and education, faith-based services, legal services, transportation services, recovery services and long term shelter services.
• Emergency food and clothing: Emergency food and clothing are available for clients who are in need due to violence and abuse.
• Housing establishment and relocation: Wild Iris is often able to assist with providing items needed to establish a new home after fleeing a harmful situation. This help may include temporary assistance with utility services and locating furniture and essential household items. In some instances, Wild Iris may be able to assist with relocating those surviving violence to another, safer community.
• Transitional Housing Program: Transitional Housing offers a safe and empowering environment for people who have been harmed. This program allows them 24 months to work on a safer and healthier future.
• Restraining orders: Wild Iris advocates guide and support you through the process of obtaining a restraining order. Wild Iris peer counselors cannot provide legal advice.
• Wild Iris Mammoth Lakes Office:
Call 760 934-2491
625 Old Mammoth Road #201
Mammoth Lakes, Calif., 93546
Fax: 760-934-1568
• Wild Iris Bishop Office:
Call 760-873-6601
150 N. Main St.
PO Box 697
Bishop, Calif., 93515
Fax: 760-873-8104

With additional reporting by Wendilyn Grasseschi, Mammoth Times Reporter


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