In a recent News and Observer article entitled “Tackling N.C.’s persistent poverty” UNC economics professor, Patrick Conway, gave readers a glimpse into the background of North Carolina’s growing poverty rates. In his article, Conway stresses the importance of education as well as government support for low-income families. He acknowledges the expenditure they mandate in the short term but points to the long term benefits of fewer households living in poverty and higher levels of job preparedness as long term justification for the spending. In light of the recent and upcoming budget debates it is important that as citizens we remain informed of the potential effects of budget decisions so that North Carolina may continue to be “a model for others states and a benefit to its lowest-income citizens,” as defined by Conway.
Conway’s article served as a reminder of the connection between poverty and domestic violence. While poverty in no way causes domestic violence, it can be seen as an aggravating factor for those already in domestic violence situations. Victims living in poverty are often forced to examine their safety in terms broader than solely the physical. For example, by leaving an abuser a victim may also be giving up affordable housing, an additional (or the only) source of income, and/or any childcare or transportation his/her partner provides. These additional issues may cause victims to have to find a multilayered approach to their situations at home or may ultimately dissuade them from leaving their abusers.
The domestic violence prevention community has also felt the effects of the economic downturn economy in connection to centers and shelters themselves. While domestic violence agencies are working hard to continue to aid domestic violence victims and raise awareness in their communities, budget cuts and the poor state of the economy in general have become looming threats. REACH, a domestic violence shelter community based out of Jackson County, NC has already felt the effects of new financial constraints and has been forced to begin foreclosure proceedings. It is unlikely that local governments in this time of economic recession will have the funds to adequately provide services for domestic violence victims, let alone to continue the preventative measures domestic violence agencies offer. Beverly Kennedy, Executive Director of FVPC, sees Orange County paralleling this trend and says that as budget cuts continue she has seen requests for services here at FVPC increase.
Visit our website to learn about the options available for individuals and groups to help victims of domestic violence.