Today, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) released its 10th consecutive annual Domestic Violence Counts: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services (Census) report. In a single 24-hour period, on September 16, 2015, local domestic violence programs across the nation counted the services they provided to victims, as well as the services they were not able to provide due to a lack of resources.
More than 1,700 – or 93 percent – of identified local domestic violence programs in the United States and territories participated in the Domestic Violence Counts Census this year. On Census Day alone, these local programs provided help and safety to 71,828 adults and children who were victims of domestic violence. These survivors were given a safe place to stay and access to the resources or services necessary to escape violence and abuse. In addition to providing direct services, these programs answered more than 21,000 hotline calls and educated more than 27,000 individuals on domestic violence, all on the survey day.
“The Census shines a spotlight on the often invisible but lifesaving work of advocates and domestic violence programs,” said Kim Gandy, NNEDV President and CEO. “As one survivor said to the advocate who accompanied her to obtain a court order of protection, ‘I could never have gone in there alone. You helped me so much’ That is just one example of the help provided every day to tens of thousands of survivors and their children who are seeking safety from abuse, all across the country.”
Sadly, 12,197 times during the same 24-hour period, a hotline phone rang or a victim knocked at the door to request a shelter bed, an attorney, children’s counseling, or another vital service, and the local program was forced to say no because they did not have the resources to help them. Countless programs spent hour after hour trying to find victims other services and help, often finding help for them in faraway places – even other states – but sometimes not at all.
“Victims and their children are the ones who suffer the consequences when services are not available, and often have no choice but to return to the abuse,” said Gandy. “Again and again in the Census responses, we read about a survivor who needed help but couldn’t get it. It is simply unacceptable for victims to be turned away at their time of greatest risk.”
The increased attention to domestic violence across the country has led to an increase in demand for victim services. At the same time, many of these programs are experiencing stagnant or reduced funding, which limits their ability to serve more victims. Out of the 12,197 unmet requests for services, 41 percent were for emergency shelter, 22 percent were for transitional housing, and 36 percent were for non-residential services. While recently some funding streams have been increased or restored at the federal level, many programs are only beginning to rebuild after repeated cuts.
Yesterday, NNEDV hosted a Congressional briefing to preview the Census findings. The briefing featured an expert panel of speakers, including Kim Gandy, NNEDV President and CEO; Cindy Southworth, NNEDV Executive Vice President; Winifred Wilson, Executive Director of House of Ruth, DC; Anne Menard, CEO of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence; and a domestic violence survivor (name withheld for privacy). Panelists described the life-saving and effective work of domestic violence programs and the need for additional resources. The briefing is supported by Honorary Congressional co-hosts Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as the leading national voice for domestic violence victims and their allies. NNEDV’s membership includes all 56 state and territorial coalitions against domestic violence, including over 2,000 local programs. NNEDV has been advancing the movement against domestic violence for 25 years, having led efforts among domestic violence advocates and survivors in urging Congress to pass the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994. To learn more about NNEDV, please visit nnedv.org.