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Survey: Critical Shortage In Funding For Domestic Violence Survivors

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) -  A snapshot of the “Domestic Violence Counts 2013: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services in Texas,” captured in a new survey released today by the National Network to End Domestic Violence shows many domestic violence programs across Texas and across the nation have a critical shortage of funds and staff to assist victims in need of services.

The 24-Hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services shows that nearly 100 programs across the state are serving thousands of victims every day in Texas. Eighty-eight percent of the programs participated in the survey.

On September 17, 2013, the day of the survey, nearly 6,000 victims of domestic violence were served in one day. The number reflects nearly 1,000 more victims served than the previous year. Nationally, nearly 66,000 victims of domestic violence were helped in a single day.

Texans in need found refuge in emergency shelters, transitional housing and received assistance and services, including individual counseling, legal advocacy and children’s support.

The survey also revealed compelling details: Across Texas 69 (3%) staff positions were eliminated in the past year and most often these positions were direct services, such as shelter or legal advocates, so there were fewer advocates to answer calls for help. A Texas advocate reported that a victim came to their shelter indicating she had had already moved once for her safety. Unfortunately, her abuser was still able to find her and she walked through the night on a state highway to a church in her community. The pastor, knowing the shelter could provide services, called and the shelter picked her up to provide refuge. She remains in the shelter, receiving support services and advocacy while she is working on changing her identity.

“This snapshot is extremely poignant; we need to acknowledge that this is the stark reality of just one day in providing domestic services in Texas,” said Gloria A. Terry, TCFV’s CEO and a member of the board for the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “When a victim of domestic violence has the courage to reach out and ask a stranger for help, it is often a matter of life and death. Resources must be readily available because statistics show, in many cases, if a shelter is not available; the victim is forced to return to the abuser. It is also a time to recognize the selfless acts of the many who work in programs across the state. The survey demonstrates that Texans are doing a great job serving thousands of victims of domestic violence in Texas everyday, but, it also clearly shows we must continue to work to secure additional funds for victims of domestic violence in Texas.”

Every hour — hotlines, which are a lifeline to victims in danger, provided support, information and safety planning totaling nearly 2,000 callers in a 24-hour period and 79 hotline calls every hour in Texas.

But, the one-day survey also shows that over 1,300 requests for domestic violence services were unmet because local programs were unable to provide services because there was not enough funding or staff to handle the requests for services. Nearly 40 percent of those requests were for 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.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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