On September 15, 2010 domestic violence victim advocates served more than 70,000 adults and children nationwide, and answered more than 20,000 emergency hotline calls during a single 24-hour period. In addition to the number of victims served, more than 30,000 individuals attended 1,240 training sessions provided by local domestic violence programs to help prevent violence.
But during that same 24 hour period, more than 9,000 requests for services went unmet, largely due to lack of funding. And on that same day, across the US, three women were murdered by their intimate partners, and thirty-six babies were born to mothers seeking refuge in domestic violence shelters.
The above data comes from a National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) survey of 1747 domestic violence agencies around the country, which gives stark insight into the urgent and ongoing need for domestic violence advocacy and assistance, in addition to the pressing budgetary and financial difficulties faced by both victims and DV advocates.
Although hard economic times do not cause domestic violence, factors associated with economic uncertainties (e.g. joblessness, alcohol/substance abuse, financial insolvency or insecurity) can be triggers for increases in the severity and frequency of abuse. At the same time, decreased revenue and the subsequent “belt tightening” that generally accompanies harsh economic realities, tends to prompt governments and private individuals to become more frugal in their spending and donor contributions, placing increased strain on the funding and budgets of many victims advocacy agencies that rely on private donations and government funding. The end result, says Sue Else, president of NNEDV, is that DV agencies around the country are experiencing a painful series of economic choices, “the economy is exacerbating domestic violence, and victim advocates across the country are struggling to do more with less.” But, she says, most agencies take great pains to avoid letting these harsh, new realities affect client interaction or victims services.
Still, this troubling catch-22 is vividly outlined in the data reported by the NNEDV study: more than 80% of local domestic violence programs reported an increased demand for their services while nearly the same number reported decreases in funding.
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