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State Cutbacks Affect Domestic Violence Survivors

February 23, 2009

Salem, OR – Access to safety and shelter is critical when you're in an abusive relationship. In Oregon, however, state budget cuts may mean less funding for emergency shelters, sexual assault counseling and outreach for domestic violence victims.

The governor has proposed that the "Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Fund" (ODSVS) be trimmed 10 percent, or about $500,000, although advocates say it's already under-funded. Kerry Naughton, crime survivors' program director for the Partnership for Safety and Justice, says in a shaky economy, the need for these types of services grows.

"The National Institute of Justice actually found that the rate of violence against women increases as the rate of male unemployment increases. And we also think it's important to remember that more than a third of domestic violence assaults are witnessed by children."

Naughton points out that ODSVS is a major source of funding for about 50 women's shelters around the state.

"The state's net savings by cutting ODSVS would be small, while the costs would be enormous in healthcare response to increased violence, homelessness, substance abuse and mental health issues, and increased crime."

In 2007, Naughton says, there were more than 17,000 requests for emergency shelter that could not be met, and one in six Oregon women is a rape victim.

Representatives of women's shelters, including counselors and other service providers, will be in Salem on Friday, February 27, to make their case. They'll ask state lawmakers to spare the ODSVS program from budget cuts. Learn more online at www.safetyandjustice.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR