Victims of domestic and sexual violence are getting left behind by state governments that are slashing funds as the recession forces budget cuts.
California led the way, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut $20.4 million earmarked for domestic violence programs from the state budget, according to news reports.
Statewide, the governor’s action is affecting 94 domestic violence centers, and has already caused three to close, according to Camille Hayes of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.
Hayes told the Redding Record-Searchlight that state funds were “really what kept [the centers’] lights on and doors open.”
The U.S. Justice Department gave a last-minute reprieve to six California programs that got $3 million in grants, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Yet that still leaves domestic violence programs around the state more than $17 million short.
Similar cuts are affecting programs around the nation:
– In Illinois, the legislature reduced funds for domestic-violence programs by 75 percent, according to a press release from Family Services, a support agency that serves clients on both sides of the Iowa-Illinois state border.
– In Hawaii, the state will be limiting its contracts with nine domestic violence shelters to three months, the Maui Weekly reported. Advocates fear this means the shelters could lose their funding altogether by the beginning of November.
– The Connecticut Post reported a $120,000 cut for domestic violence services in the greater New Haven area.
– The Daily Journal of Kankakee, Illinois, reported that one shelter anticipates shutting down on August 14, after more than 23 years of service.
– In Massachusetts, legal aid programs are losing funding for staff and programs, which means fewer legal resources for the victims of domestic violence and others who might have qualified for free or low-cost legal assistance, Boston’s WWLP reported.
Kelly White and Chris Grumm, a pair of columnists for Women’s eNews, say these cuts will lead to a spike in domestic homicides.
Indeed, some 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States, according to statistics published by the American Bar Association; the same data shows that an intimate partner kills one out of every three female murder victims.
Ironically, the state budget cuts come at a time when the federal government is paying more attention to the problem.
President Obama recently appointed Lynn Rosenthal, formerly leader of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as the first White House Advisor on Violence Against Women.
Advocates are already calling upon Rosenthal to restore funding for existing programs.
“Domestic violence shelters slammed by budget cuts”
Redding.com, August 7, 2009
“Domestic violence groups get federal funds”
San Francisco Chronicle, August 7, 2009
“Dear Lynn: Women’s Safety Needs You to Safeguard”
Women’s eNews, August 4, 2009
“Budget cuts force family resources, Inc. to reduce services to victims of sexual and domestic violence”
Quad Cities Online, July 15, 2009
“Are Shelters in Jeopardy?”
Maui Weekly, August 6, 2009
“Social Service agencies still holding out for funding”
Daily Journal (Illinois), August 5, 2009
“Domestic violence programs in jeopardy of being cut form program”
WFMZ.com, July 13, 2009
“Social service groups face layoffs if budget isn’t passed”
Connecticut Post, August 4 2009
“Legal Aid Advocates face budget cuts”
WWLP.com, August 6, 2009