Story By: Aliah Williamson

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Finding professional help and support can be hard for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence during the pandemic.

“Everyone is at home so it can be a little more isolating. Survivors of sexual trauma are already dealing with a lot of the symptoms of PTSD [and] isolation is a huge part of that,” explained Megan Garrison, Sexual Assault Program Educator for YWCA Dayton.

“We also noticed that when you have everyone at home, it’s harder for survivors especially in domestic violence to be able to call a hotline,” she said.

To help fill this gap, YWCA recently launched a virtual helproom in conjunction with RAINN.

There are six times a week that this helproom is open. There are two different times for three different groups: sexual assault survivors, LGBTQIA+ identifying survivors, and family and friends of survivors.

It’s text-based completely but it’s a private chat. All they have to go to is our website,” said Garrison. “We have a lot of topics like understanding your triggers, finding a coping mechanism [or] sometimes they need help with understanding the legal system.”

In each chat are at least two trained specialists who monitor the conversation for trigger words or self identifying information to keep the participants safe.

“The goal is that we just want to survivors to know, even during COVID-19, even when nobody can leave their house without feeling completely safe… they’re not alone. We are still here. YWCA dayton is still here. We have advocates still around who are here to represent them,” said Garrison.

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