Vital programs and services that save lives face 25 percent budget cuts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
CONTACT: Cristina Williams, RICADV: (401) 467-9940; Cell: (917) 940-3729; firstname.lastname@example.org
[Providence, R.I.] The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence today hosted a community gathering at the State House to address the serious issue of Governor Lincoln D. Chafee's proposed budget cuts to programs and services that are vital in saving the lives of domestic and sexual abuse victims. RICADV, its member agencies (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, Sojourner House, Women's Resource Center of Newport, and the Women's Center of Rhode Island), Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR), and Day One, invited allies, advocates and the general public to participate in the day's awareness efforts. The primary goal was to educate legislators and public officials about the severe impact these detrimental cuts will have on Rhode Island's future—one that should be free of domestic violence and sexual assault, but cannot be if this plan is enacted.
RICADV, its member agencies, and Day One are facing dangerous statewide cuts to programs and services that, if reduced further (programs have already been ravaged by 70 percent cuts over the past five years – see attachment), will greatly decrease their capacity to serve victims of domestic and sexual violence. This is unacceptable and it is the State's responsibility to provide enough resources to remedy these public health problems. Last year, 9,382 victims of domestic violence sought help. And, 432 adult and child victims of sexual violence received counseling through Day One.
Two critical areas that must be protected if we are to continue saving lives and prevent future tragedies are:
Domestic Violence Court Advocacy
Domestic Violence Court Advocates provide essential support for victims trying to navigate complicated court systems to protect themselves and their children. Each year, court advocates support and assist 8,000 victims in District and Family Court. With previous cuts, there are already fewer resources to serve the same number of victims, and we cannot afford more.
Children Who Witness Programs
Children who witness domestic violence are impacted by what they see, which often has long-term effects on their lives such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. They are at greater risk for health, emotional and learning challenges, as well as, becoming victims or perpetrators of abuse themselves. These resources help to break the cycle. Services for these children are critical—half of all the people staying in domestic violence shelters and transitional housing are children.
Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes that intimate partner violence [and domestic violence] is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States—more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.1 In Rhode Island, 29.9 percent of women and 19.3 percent of men, experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetimes.2 And, 1 in 8 Rhode Island women will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetimes. We cannot afford cuts to programs and services when the statistics alarmingly illustrate how serious a public problem this is—so many lives are depending on these resources and the help of their State. The reality is domestic violence happens in every community in Rhode Island and no one is immune to it—with one in five people experiencing this abuse, the time to act is now. These are not just numbers; these victims are our friends, family members, colleagues and neighbors.
RICADV hopes the message was received at the State House gathering today, which was held at 3:30 p.m., and that funding is restored in the General Assembly's budget. The bottom line is clear: these vital programs and services save lives and domestic violence and sexual assault are preventable when advocates and victims are given sufficient resources. Community support for this message was strongly evident as the group raised their voices as one in response to these proposed budget cuts and demanded NO MORE domestic violence and sexual assault.
About NO MORE Day:
NO MORE Day is part of the national NO MORE campaign designed to unite all organizations in the United States that seek to end domestic violence and sexual assault by raising awareness in a multitude of ways. While the campaign has been building momentum since last year, today marks the public national launch. In RI, the RICADV has chosen to observe the national NO MORE Day by raising their voices in response to the proposed State budgets cuts. By speaking out on this day, voices will resonate loudly - locally and nationally - as one against domestic and sexual violence and against these detrimental budget cuts. This day is a call to action for legislators, public officials, and the community at large, to stand together to end domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the six domestic violence prevention agencies in Rhode Island. The organization also provides leadership to its six member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island.
1 Black MC, Basile KC, Breiding MJ, Smith SG, Walters ML, Merrick MT, Chen J, Stevens MR. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2011
2 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report