In just one 24-hour period, 1,752 victims of domestic violence received services from domestic violence programs in Massachusetts.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) just released the results of their annual National Census of Domestic Violence Services, which they conducted in September. NNEDV made the results available in the report: “Domestic Violence Counts: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services.” The sheer number and variety of services that DV programs are providing across the country is impressive. However, the report also reveals that reduced funding for domestic violence services means that programs don’t always have the resources necessary to help survivors find shelter, get legal help, or leave abusive partners.
The report shows a snapshot of nationwide data as well as a state-by-state breakdown. REACH was one of 54 programs in Massachusetts which participated on September 12, 2012. Within Massachusetts, one of the more troubling aspects of the report is that of 443 unmet requests for services on one day last fall, 86% were for shelter. Legal representation is also among the greatest areas of need. Given the high cost of housing in Massachusetts, the fact that less than 200 shelter beds exist for domestic violence survivors in the Commonwealth, and cuts to legal aid, these needs are not surprising but they are troubling.
It’s important to note that a bad economy does not cause domestic violence, nor does a good economy stop domestic violence. In homes where domestic violence exists, however, job loss and economic stress and scarcity can exacerbate existing domestic violence. At the same time, the economic conditions of the past few years have had a significant impact on domestic violence programs. Kim Gandy, President and CEO of NNEDV, says “Cutting funds to domestic violence programs means that victims have fewer places to turn. It is impossible to hold offenders accountable and provide safe havens for victims with reduced funding for services and shelters. Budget cuts at the local, state, and federal level are creating increased danger to victims and their children.”
Next week, REACH is headed to Beacon Hill for Jane Doe‘s annual Legislative Advocacy Day. We’ll talk more in a future post about the specific issues we’re bringing to our lawmakers, but you can help by letting your representatives know that funding for domestic violence services is important to you, and by continuing to support our efforts to shelter families and provide community-based services for those not in shelter.
To read the full report from NNEDV, click here.
Massachusetts-specific data available here. (pdf)