Millions of people across America are feeling the impact of the first government shutdown in 17 years, and for some, it’s not just the economic blow of a work furlough that’s causing the damage. Sadly, the shutdown may also be endangering victims of domestic violence by limiting the services available to help them.
According to the Los Angeles Times, domestic-violence centers in Montana and Vermont are no longer being reimbursed by the government for expenses incurred to aid victims of violence and sexual abuse.
This disturbing news comes just as Domestic Violence Awareness Month kicks off across the country. As Congress wrestles over the budget, now is the time to reflect on how serious the problem of domestic violence is, both in North Carolina and nationwide.
Last year, 122 people were killed in domestic-violence incidents in North Carolina, according to statistics compiled by the state Department of Justice. And according to the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as of Sept. 22 there have been 29 homicides in the state that are linked to domestic violence. Nearly all of the murders involved a romantic partner or ex, and the rest occurred between other intimate family members, such as a parent and child.
More Than 1 Million Victims of Domestic Violence Annually
Looking at the broader picture, more than 1 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. Men may also be victims of intimate-partner violence, but the vast majority of the abused are women.
Experts also believe that many more people are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse than is reported to law enforcement agencies. Usually, that’s because victims are too afraid to speak up or feel trapped because they are economically dependent on a partner.
As we step back to observe National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we should look at the services available to help victims. Most states have shelters or agencies that can provide aid to victims of abuse. But oftentimes they don’t have the funding or space necessary to meet their needs.
This point is underscored by the current news headlines about domestic-violence centers struggling amidst the federal shutdown. As domestic-violence lawyers, we strongly believe that more needs to be done to help keep these services alive – and continuing to grow in capacity – because more lives are at stake than any statistic can express.
Focus on Awareness of Domestic Abuse
Throughout October, think of ways that you can help build awareness about domestic violence. Volunteer for a campaign to educate the public and your local government leaders about the seriousness of the problem. Participate in vigils to honor those who have lost their lives as a result of abuse or even make donations to shelters like InterAct in Raleigh.
For a list of agencies throughout North Carolina that provide services to victims of domestic violence, click here.
Most importantly, if you or someone you love is a victim of domestic violence, please seek help. The initial steps of reaching out are terrifying – but the consequences of not acting could be deadly. The lawyers at Charles Ullman and Associates can help you. Please call our Wake County firm at 855-709-9041 or use our online form for assistance.