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WV Domestic Violence Numbers Headed Up

March 2, 2009

Charleston, WV - A just-released survey of West Virginia service providers finds that during a 24-hour period, nearly 650 adults and children received help with problems related to domestic violence. Angie Rosser, communications coordinator with the West Virginia Against Coalition Against Domestic Violence, calls that number "typical" for a single day. And, she warns, studies show that domestic violence rates go up when the economy turns down: Unemployment in a family can double the chance of violence.

"Economic stress in itself is not a cause of domestic violence, but it is certainly an exacerbating factor. So these are typically families who already have a history of abuse, and financial strain is raising the risk."

Helping the victims is a complicated job, however, she says.

"Ending the violence is not enough. You still have to find a place for this family to live that's safe and affordable, and you have to address any mental health or substance abuse needs that would be a result of the trauma."

Domestic violence services in West Virginia are "stretched thin," Rosser says, and the only way to serve more people would be to add more resources. Fortunately, she adds, help is on the way: The federal stimulus bill President Obama recently signed into law includes more than $200 million for expanding domestic violence services nationwide.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV