2011 Statistics show an increase in services to victims
Last year 16,496 individuals turned to the 14 member programs of the Coalition for services, a 3% increase from 2010. While crisis centers are doing their best to keep up with demand for short term services, it has been difficult to continue providing longer term services to assist survivors in achieving independence, particularly with limited resources.
A snapshot of the findings shows:
- 8,941 people sought services for domestic violence, an increase of 4.3% over 2010.
- 2,111 people sought services for sexual assault, a decrease of 1.2% over 2010.
- 743 people sought services for stalking, a 6.4% increase over 2010.
The Role of the Economy
The economy continues to be the common stressor that is not only elevating the level of violence being experienced by survivors, but it is also playing a role in preventing them from achieving independence. It is important to note that a bad economy does not cause domestic violence; rather it plays a role in exacerbating power and control issues which already existed in many relationships. Advocates report that they continue to see an increase in the frequency and the severity of the violence that victims are experiencing. Some couples have stayed together for financial reasons including to avoid losing their home. In some of these cases this has increased the level of control for the batterer who has become more careless or intentional about the physical violence.
Extended Shelter Stays
Shelters are often full, and families are staying for several months, much longer than in past years. This has greatly impacted the number of people who are able to receive shelter. The result is fewer people receiving shelter services, while the number of nights spent in shelter skyrocketed:
- The number of women staying in shelter (327) increased by just 3.5% while the number of bed nights (22,500) went up 40.8%.
- The number of children staying in shelter (256) increased by 20.8 % while the number of bed nights (19,215) went up 51.6%.
- In addition 4 men received shelter totaling 437 nights.
As in past years these families are spending longer amounts of time in shelter due to the lack of affordable housing, lack of resources to help them gain independence, and other traditional sources of support like friends and family being unable to assist them. In addition many survivors have no or less than great credit, which can play a factor with landlords who have many choices about whom to rent to.
The Impact of Funding Reductions
The Coalition's member programs were impacted by several unforeseen funding reductions last year. As a result many programs have had to either eliminate, or choose not to fill open positions. This has led to fewer longer term services like support groups or case management. Deb Mozden the Executive Director of Turning Points Network in Claremont sums up the impact this can have on a survivor:
"To go from full wrap around support and services in the shelter to a few weeks of some support after a family leaves the shelter to nothing in a couple more weeks is really hard on survivors. Continued case management and support focused on the long term and on establishing self sufficiency is crucial. Lack of self-sufficiency is what makes survivors return to batterers after about six month of ever increasing debt and single parenting."