Domestic violence programs are not exactly well-funded at the best of times, forcing them to turn away enormous numbers of people in need of help—according to a census by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, around 10,000 people in a day. Sequestration is not helping that any, with the indiscriminate cuts starting to hit domestic violence programs
as they've hit Head Start and Meals on Wheels and so many others. Bryce Covert has rounded up some of the depressing details in several states. In Rhode Island, for instance, where state funding for domestic violence programs has been cut by around 70 percent in five years:
The programs are now starting to feel the impact of sequestration, with a cut to one federal grant so far and the rest beginning with the June 1 fiscal cycle. To deal with the coming cuts, as of June 1 the state will no longer have any advocates helping victims in court on Mondays. “This is the first time in the history of domestic violence services in Rhode Island we’ve ever had to scale back in this dramatic way,” [Deborah DeBare, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence] said. But the pain isn’t over, as the programs are expecting more cut backs to court advocacy services and a potential reduction in shelter beds depending on the size of the cuts.
She described the real life consequences of this reduction in services for one victim of domestic violence. All of the shelter beds were filled, so she went to a homeless shelter instead. But her abuser, who had been imprisoned for the past three years, had escaped. “There she was in a homeless shelter with a public address,” DeBare explained. She was in an unsecured facility with people who hadn’t been trained to deal with domestic violence. Yet even the option of referring victims to homeless shelters is diminishing, as sequestration is also reducing those programs’ budgets. “Sometimes it’s very difficult to find a bed for somebody,” she concluded.
Let's hope that those depressing details don't become literally gory details. But hey, on the sequester bright side, I flew this weekend and the only delays I encountered were due to weather and combative passengers, not sequestration. Thanks, Congress!