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Nationwide Survey Reveals Urgent Need for Increased Funding for Domestic Violence Service Providers

March 6, 2014

Nearly 66,000 Domestic Violence Victims Helped On a Single Day, But Almost 10,000 Requests for Help Go Unanswered

March 6, 2014 – Today, 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. The Avon Foundation for Women provided funding for the Census report, which was released at a Congressional briefing.

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 1649 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 include this data from September 17, 2013:

  • 66,581 domestic violence victims and their children received services.
  • More than 20,000 calls to domestic violence hotlines were answered, an average of more than 14 calls every minute.
  • More than 23,000 individuals were educated on domestic violence during trainings conducted by local programs.
  • Nearly 10,000 requests from domestic violence victims (9,641) were turned down because programs did not have the resources to provide them, including requests for emergency shelter, housing, transportation, childcare and legal representation.
  • The majority of unmet requests (60%) 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 program providers were asked what most often happens when services are not available, 60% said a common outcome was that victims returned to the abusers, 27% of programs said 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 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.

This is the eighth consecutive year that NNEDV has conducted its Domestic Violence Counts census, funded in part by the Avon Foundation for Women since 2011.

“The Census demonstrates that the demand for services has remained discouragingly and consistently strong. But unfortunately, programs that address the needs are experiencing cuts.  27% of the reporting organizations  experienced cuts in government funding, 12% had cuts in private funding, and 10% reported reduced individual donations. These critical programs must be resourced adequately if we are to save lives and reduce partner violence,” said Carol Kurzig, President of the Avon Foundation for Women.

Senator Leahy (D-Vermont), Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee, who championed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, last year spoke at the briefing.

“While I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish last year, your Census reminds us of the work that lies ahead,” said Leahy.  “It is unacceptable that almost 10,000 requests for services went unmet across the United States in just one day, half of which were for emergency housing.  We can and must do more to ensure that service providers have the resources they need to serve all victims.”

At the briefing, speakers included: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)); DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Executive Director Karma Cottman; a survivor of domestic violence, Melissa Skelton; NNEDV President and CEO, Kim Gandy; and Avon Foundation for Women President Carol Kurzig.  Speakers urged attending Members of Congress and their staffs to provide an additional $40 million in funding to support domestic violence programs through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act and $147M for the comprehensive criminal justice response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking through the Violence Against Women Act.

To find out how to contact your Congressional representative about this issue, click here. Download the full “Domestic Violence Counts 2013” Census report.