Services for domestic violence victims are in jeopardy |

Services for domestic violence victims are in jeopardy

Peg Coleman, Executive director, Utah Domestic Violence Council

A national report released Wednesday backs up what those trying to protect victims of domestic violence in the State of Utah already know and are deeply worried about funding cuts are putting lives at risk as services simply cannot meet demand.

Last year alone, 1,000 requests for shelter here in Utah had to be turned down, leaving 2,200 adults and children in jeopardy with fewer options. The shelters were already at capacity and that capacity is being squeezed further by the funding cuts in place and on the horizon. Simultaneously, other much-needed direct services, such as the provision of legal assistance to protect victims, and programs designed to assist children traumatized by domestic violence, are being cut by as much as 50 percent across the country.

At the same time the demand for services is only increasing. If no one is there to answer the phone when a victim is in crisis; if there is no space at a shelter for victims and their children in an emergency, then the results can be fatal. We know this for a fact. Forty percent of all adult homicides in Utah between 2000 and 2010 were the result of domestic violence. If we continue to see a reduction in the funding of those very services that provide 24-hour crisis response, information and safety planning for families and communities then there is a very real risk these figures will increase.

The report, compiled by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), is the product of a survey of its member organizations carried out in September 2012 to assess the impact of changes to funding at the state and local level. The report also found that 19 domestic violence shelters have already had to close nationally.

Shelter services in Utah face the same fate. The legislators are being asked to approve a DHS Building Block request for $474,000 in the Governor’s FY14 Budget to continue to fund Utah’s frontline response to family violence that’s a price tag of less than $17,000 for every life lost through domestic violence in 2012 alone before any consideration of the cost to the children and families of those who died and the services they now require.

What price a life? If you think a mother’s life, a daughter’s life, a brother’s life, a child’s life is worth anything, then please support this push for continued and adequate funding of these essential services. Find out who your legislators are and call them today to ask what they are doing to respond to family violence and why approving these funds is not at the top of their agenda; otherwise, shelters in Utah will close.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, tell a friend, a neighbor, a family member or co-worker. For immediate help call 9-1-1. If you decide to leave a violent relationship, do not threaten to leave, and do not act alone. Call a local victim advocate or the Utah Domestic Violence Link-Line at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) for help. Your call is confidential and could save lives. You can be referred to an advocate who will help you create a safety plan and help find shelter for you and your children. If you are a person who has been violent, there is also help available for you through the Link-Line.

Remember, there’s no excuse for abuse. End domestic violence by breaking the silence.

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