Survey reveals dwindling resources for domestic violence victims

MGN Online
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 10:38pm

This month, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) released a new research report that found, in a single 24-hour period, more than 66,000 victims of domestic violence received help and support from service organizations in the United States, yet nearly 10,000 more who needed assistance could not be helped due to a lack of adequate resources.

In Louisiana, 721 victims received services in that 24-hour period, but 167 could not be helped because local programs here didn’t have sufficient resources.

“We know we have a significant lack of resources”, said Beth Meeks, Executive Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “To house the portion of these women and their children seeking shelter services we estimate we would need 700 shelter beds throughout the state. We currently have about 400.”

The report, “Domestic Violence Counts 2013: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services,” examined a random day, September 17, 2013, and collected information from 1,649 domestic violence programs throughout the United States from midnight to midnight on that day. It identifies needs that were met and unmet on that day and provides a snapshot of how budget cuts are affecting the staffing and resources of these organizations.

Key findings for Louisiana include this 24-hour data from September 17, 2013:

  • 721 domestic violence victims and their children received services in just one day
     
  • 334 calls to domestic violence hotlines were answered.
     
  • 167 requests from domestic violence victims were turned down because programs did not have the resources to provide them. These included requests for emergency shelter, housing, transportation, childcare and legal representation.
     
  • 34% of unmet requests were from victims who had chosen to flee their abusers, and were seeking safe emergency or transitional housing.


“Every day in this country, victims of domestic violence are bravely reaching out for help, and it’s essential that they have somewhere safe to go,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the NNEDV. “We have made so much progress toward ending violence and giving survivors avenues for safety. But continued program cuts jeopardize that progress and jeopardize the lives of victims.”

When nationwide program providers were asked what most likely happens when services are not available, 60% said the most likely outcome was that victims returned to their abusers, 27% said the victims become homeless, and 11% said that victims end up living in their cars.
The research also shows initial impacts of the new guidelines in the Affordable Care Act, which require healthcare providers to screen patients for domestic violence and refer victims to services. Data collected for this study shows that since these guidelines have been in effect, there has been an 18.5% increase in referrals received nationwide by domestic violence programs; a number that experts predict will only increase as the ACA takes full effect.

The number of unmet needs is related to the financial resources of these programs. In 2013, 1,696 staff positions were cut due to funding reductions, an average of 1.2 staff per program. Of the staff that were cut in 2013, 70 percent were direct service positions, such as case managers, advocates, shelter staff, and child advocates.

“Nothing feels as hopeless as reaching out to save your life and your kids’ lives and hearing that no one can help. We see the real consequences of that every day in Louisiana with our staggering number of domestic homicides. Every community should make improving this system a priority.” Meeks concluded.

Download the full “Domestic Violence Counts 2013” census report at www.nnedv.org/census.

For additional information on domestic violence, or to find the domestic violence service provider in your area visit www.lcadv.org.
  

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