A New Threat to Victims of Domestic Violence
By Kenneth E. Noyes and Rebecca W. O’Connor
Victims of domestic violence and their children should not be pawns in the city’s budgeting process. D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s revised budget proposes a 10 percent additional cut to the already meager local funding for the D.C. Office of Victim Services. This would have a devastating impact on victims of domestic violence — of which there may be as many as 75,000 in the District.
Approximately one-fourth of women in the District are likely to experience domestic violence. In 2008, the District police department received 30,676 domestic-related calls: one every 17 minutes.
Domestic abuse spikes in stressful economic times. District service providers report increased crisis calls, more requests for shelter and a greater need for services for victims and their children. Simultaneously, local programs have experienced great losses in capacity, significantly affecting their ability to meet victims’ needs. This new funding cut would only compound the problem and endanger the lives of more women and children.
The Office of Victim Services plays a key role as one of the few local government funders of the fragile safety net for victims of domestic violence. Policymakers must prioritize and protect local funding for victims of domestic violence and their children. Lives are in the balance.
The writers are, respectively, executive director and policy director of the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
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