Domestic violence service providers across the country are making impossible choices in the face of shrinking budgets and dramatic cuts in federal and state-level support.
As Bryce Covert at ThinkProgress notes, these reductions don't have hypothetical consequences. When domestic violence services are reduced or eliminated, victims of violence suffer.
According to a report from the National Network to End Domestic Violence, on a single day in 2013, domestic violence support programs were unable to meet nearly 9,500 requests for help, leaving victims without emergency shelter, financial aid, legal representation or other lifesaving services.
"Domestic violence programs do not always know what happens when a survivor courageously calls a stranger to ask for a bed or other help and the services aren’t available," according to the report. "However, 60 percent of programs report that victims return to the abuser, 27 percent report that victims become homeless, and 11 percent report that victims end up living in their cars."
In a survey of providers, nearly 30 percent reported that they were unable to meet requests for help because of reduced government funding. Twenty percent of providers reported being understaffed, meaning that emergency hotline calls go unanswered and victims are left without anywhere to turn for help.
But even in a dire funding landscape, service providers are still doing essential, lifesaving work, as the report notes.
In a single day, 36,348 domestic violence victims -- including 19,000 children -- were able to leave an abusive home and find shelter or emergency housing through a local program. More than 30,000 adults and children were also given counseling, legal support and other crucial assistance.