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VA Domestic Violence Programs on the Chopping Block

February 22, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - A cut here and a slash there - the governor's budget proposal is in, and among the cuts is more than $3.5 million in funding for domestic violence programs. Sarah Meacham, who is the executive director of Avalon Shelter for Women and Children in Williamsburg, says that if the cuts are adopted, it will be devastating for thousands of women and children whose lives depend on emergency shelters and services. She says her agency and others like it have already seen a reduction in funding, while the need for services has increased.

"Just since July we've seen a 75 percent increase in demand for our services, everything from counseling services to shelter, to information in referral and safety planning."

Meacham worries that more cuts to domestic violence programs will mean more women and children will remain in dangerous situations.

"Those services are going to be more and more restricted, and it will take longer for services to become available, when women are trying to flee an abusive situation."

Meacham believes that there is a direct correlation between the bad economy and the uptick in domestic violence, and says the proposed cuts would not only have an impact on the victims, but also on public safety. If the proposed budget cuts pass, they will take effect on July 1.

The Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline number is 1-800-838-8238.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA