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As Women’s Shelters Budgets are being Slashed Around the Country, Domestic Violence is on the Rise

Imagine you are in an abusive relationship and you finally gather the courage to leave, only to find that your nearest shelter is already full. Increasingly, such stories are becoming more common as cut backs in government funding force women’s shelters to operate on already way-below shoe-string budgets. Shelters that are over capacity often have to scramble to find another shelter nearby that can take in those women and children they can’t.

And the future looks bleak.

Kathleen Krenek, executive director of Next Door, a domestic violence shelter located in San Jose, CA, was recently quoted in a  San Jose Mercury News article that addresses the growing domestic violence crisis:

This is the reality of shredding the safety net…Government has been cutting social and human services for three to five years now, and I don’t think people know the effects. At this level, most of these people are invisible to them.

And the irony is that domestic violence shelters are facing cuts at a time they are needed most as domestic violence incidents are also on the rise. 

Talk about a double whammy.

A few months back Mary Kay Cosmetics revealed the results of their Mary Kay Truth About Abuse campaign. Their study, conducted in March 2011, concludes that:

– 80 percent of domestic violence shelters nationwide (more than three out of four) report an increase in women seeking assistance from abuse, and most attribute this to financial issues.

– 89 percent of domestic violence shelters expect their overall situation during the next 12 months will be worse than now, due to the economy.

– 76 percent of domestic violence shelters (three out of four) indicate their funding has decreased.– 56 percent of shelters note the abuse is more violent now than before the economic downturn.

Likewise, a U.S. Department Justice study showed that families under serious financial strain are 3 times more likely to be affected by domestic violence.

Pennsylvania, who has seen an 8 percent increase in women seeking assistance by June of this year and had to turn away 3,115 people, has coincidentally noticed another alarming statistic. From 2008 to 2009 Philadelphia police statistics revealed an increase in domestic homicides, from 21 to 36 homicides, a 71% jump. In 2010, 30 domestic homicides were reported.

Nicole Lindemyer , who works for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence heeds this dire warning: This is a public-health crisis…How many more people need to be murdered until the government recognizes [that]?

 Image credit: Microsoft Clipart

 

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