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New report reveals startling stats and unmet needs of domestic violence victims

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On the afternoon of March 6 in Washington, DC’s Senate Dirksen Building, domestic violence survivor Melissa Skelton was joined by politicians and domestic violence awareness advocates to share new and startling results from a very unique national survey which revealed that “thousands of victims on any given day may be forced to return to abusers or become homeless due to lack of funding for shelters.”

What makes this study from the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) unique is that it looked at domestic violence on a totally random date, Sept. 17, 2013.

The report, “Domestic Violence Counts 2013: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services,” revealed that 66,581 domestic violence victims received services on just that one day. The startling number of unmet requests reinforced NNEDV's position to request urgently needed and increased funding.

The full report was released today at a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, where Melissa shared her story for the first time.

She was pregnant with her first son, says Melissa, the first time that her abuser hit her and threw her to the ground. The violent strangling , punching, stalking and psychological torture would escalate for the next 8 years, until Melissa and her two sons were able to find safe refuge at a local domestic violence shelter.

Domestic violence awareness advocates and experts called upon policymakers to provide an additional $45 million in funding to support domestic violence programs, plus $150 million for the comprehensive criminal justice response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

On Sept. 17, 2013, “thousands of requests from domestic violence victims, including families like Melissa, seeking life-saving, emergency shelter, were turned down because of severe underfunding of service programs.”

On just that one day:

  • Nearly 10,000 requests from domestic violence victims including requests for emergency shelter, housing, transportation, childcare and legal representation were refused because programs did not have the resources to provide for them.
  • The majority of unmet requests (60%) were from victims who had bravely decided to leave their abusers, and were seeking safe emergency and transitional housing.

What happens to these victims when help cannot be provided is not always known. But we do know:

  • 60% of programs report that those victims return to their abusers,
  • 27% report that victims become homeless, and,
  • 11% report that families end up living in cars.

Also on that one day in Sept:

  • In the U.S, two women were killed by their abusers.
  • In Mass., a woman escaped after her husband severely assaulted her and threatened her with a knife.
  • In Ill., a little boy jumped in front of his mother to protect her from her abusive husband.
  • In Ariz., a woman was stabbed and raped by her abusive partner in front of his friends.

For the year 2013, local programs across the U.S. were forced to reduce and eliminate vital life-saving services due to underfunding:

71 local programs had to reduce or completely eliminate transitional housing for victims.

69 programs across the country had to reduce or eliminate legal representation for survivors.

38 agencies had to reduce or completely eliminate emergency shelter.

NNEDV has established a petition to legislators to increase funding for survivors of domestic violence.

You can petition your legislator, and see the complete report, “Domestic Violence Counts 2013: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services,” by visiting the NNEDV website.

The AVON Foundation for Women provided financial support to NNEDV in preparing and releasing the report.

NNEDV recommends that if you feel as if you’re in immediate danger, to dial 911.

For help and assistance, you can also call the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224.

Also see:

NO MORE launches new celebrity-driven domestic violence awareness campaign

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