Pandemic brings more victims, fewer donations to Valdosta crisis center

The Haven serves Valdosta and 8 other counties
Posted at 6:01 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 18:01:56-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — In South Georgia, there is a safe haven where victims can get help to heal and Rebound.

An emergency temporary shelter has been serving victims of family violence and sexual assault since 1986.

The Haven provides critical help to those in crisis and numbers have been rising since the pandemic began.

"The numbers have increased over 30 percent and we're not even near the end of the year yet," said Michelle Girtman, the executive director of The Haven. "Our numbers have well surpassed last year."

Girtman says the many stresses of the pandemic could be one of the factors causing an increase in incidents of domestic violence and the need for safe shelter.

"I'm seeing a lot of anxiety, a large increase in anxiety and depression," said Ashley Rhys, LMFT at The Haven. "A lot of survivors are going through PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder."

The Haven serves Valdosta and eight surrounding south Georgia counties. The pandemic hasn't changed that but has changed the way they operate.

"Now we offer teletherapy," Rhys said. "So we have this awesome platform where I can still work with clients and families."

"We're putting one family per room where before we'd be able to put multiple families in each room," Girtman said.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, putting the spotlight on the issue of domestic violence, victims, and organizations like The Haven.

Organizations that, because of COVID-19, need more help themselves.

"We've had to cancel our fundraisers this year due to COVID," said Girtman. "We're not sure what they even bring for next year because we're not sure about putting 300 or 400 people in a room."

To help support The Haven, go to their website by clicking here. If you are in crisis call their 24-hour support line at 1-800-33-HAVEN.