More than 64,000 Victims of Domestic Violence Victims Served in just One Day

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

This week the National Network to End Domestic Violence unveiled its latest one-day census of domestic violence services around the nation.

In just one 24-hour period, local domestic violence programs across the country provided help and safety to 64,324 adults and children who were victims of domestic violence. Survivors were given a safe place to stay and resources to escape violence and abuse. Sadly, 10,471 times on that same day, a hotline rang or a victim showed up at the door to request a shelter bed, an attorney, counseling, or another critical service and the local program was forced to say “I am so terribly sorry that we don’t have the resources or funds - can I work with you on a safety plan or try to find you some help in a neighboring town?”

In this one 24-hour period, 627 victims of domestic violence and their children across Louisiana received life-saving services from local domestic violence organizations. Domestic violence victim advocates here answered 195 emergency hotline calls. At the same time, 63 requests for services went unmet, largely due to lack of funding.

Beth Meeks, Executive Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, calls the unmet requests for services alarming. “This valuable snapshot into what is happening daily at domestic violence programs in Louisiana comes at a time when we are battling unprecedented budget cuts. And we should be concerned that those cuts are going to compound the problem even further. We can expect to see the numbers of unmet requests for service climb.”

For the seventh consecutive year, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) conducted its annual National Census of Domestic Violence Services on September 12, 2012 and this week released their analysis of that data in the report: Domestic Violence Counts: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services. The report revealed that reduced funding for domestic violence services means that programs are unable to help survivors with shelter, attain legal help, or leave abusive partners.

The economic conditions of the past few years have had a significant impact on domestic violence programs. “Cutting funds to domestic violence programs means that victims have fewer places to turn,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of NNEDV. “It is impossible to hold offenders accountable and provide safe havens for victims with reduced funding for services and shelters. Budget cuts at the local, state, and federal level are creating increased danger to victims and their children.”

Additionally, the pending funding cuts resulting from the sequester also worry victim advocates. According to recent analysis, sequestration will result in approximately 70,000 fewer victims getting help from domestic violence programs and approximately 36,000 fewer victims having access to protection orders, crisis intervention and counseling, sexual assault services, hospital-based advocacy, transitional housing services, and help with civil legal matters.

As programs are cutting staff, reducing hours, and cutting back on services due to lack of funds, the true harm is to domestic violence victims. “Across the country, domestic violence programs are working harder than ever to help victims of abuse,” added Gandy. “But we also know that, across the board, funding for victim services is dwindling while the demand is climbing.”

Funding to underwrite some of the costs of administering the survey was generously provided by the Avon Foundation for Women and printing was provided by the Allstate Foundation. “This highly regarded report provides a snapshot of the life-saving services being provided to victims of domestic violence every day,” said Carol Kurzig, President of the Avon Foundation for Women. “We are honored to partner with NNEDV to help them shine a light on the great work happening, as well the many unmet needs in every community across the nation.”

On September 12, 2012, 100% of DCFS funded local domestic violence programs in Louisiana participated in the survey. The figures represent the information reported by the 18 participating programs about services provided during the 24-hour survey period.

The full report is available online atwww.nnedv.org/census. State level statistics are in the back of the full report and state summaries are postedwww.nnedv.org/census