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Battered Women's Shelter, Rape Crisis Center Remain Operational During Pandemic

exterior of shelter
The Hope and Healing Survivor Resource Center is composed of the Battered Womens Shelter and the Rape Crisis Center. Support and services will continue to be offered during the pandemic.

The Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties has a message for the community: during the pandemic help will be available for people at risk of domestic violence and the Rape Crisis Center will continue serving survivors of sexual violence, said Executive Director Terri Heckman.

“Yes our doors are open, yes we are helping victims who are victimized tonight,” she said. “We do believe the numbers are going to go up because people are stuck at home, tension is high and if there is a family who is prone to abuse this is a time that it could get worse.”

24 Hour Hotline: Battered Women's Shelter 330-374-1111 Rape Crisis Center 330-434-7273

The agency temporarily closed its Medina shelter, bringing staff and residents to the Summit County site. About 40 percent of current clients volunteered to temporarily go to an off-site location deemed safe, Heckman said.

Those who stayed in shelter are kept apart, dining on separate floors and gathering in small family groups. Intake for new clients includes a medical survey and anyone with any symptoms is sent for testing, she said.

Rape Crisis Center advocates have continued support services, although they are not meeting victims one-on-one in the hospitals.

“We’ve delivered bags to every hospital with the normal things we would give a rape survivor: change of clothes, information about STDs, information about free counselling,” Heckman said. “Along with that information is a heartfelt letter from us that says normally we would be sitting next to you.”

The center’s therapists are continuing counselling sessions with clients face-to-face through a secured and protected live video tool developed for the medical community, she said.

Because staff members must leave the shelter, they are limiting exposure in public places as well as at home.

Heckman said a number of area nonprofits have offered support, as well as residents who can’t go to their jobs.

The shelter can accept some donations, and is currently in need of powered laundry soap and paper products, like toilet paper, paper towels and tissues, she said.  

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.