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Corbett Proposes Funding Boost For Rape Crisis Services in PA

Rape crisis services in Pennsylvania receive a ten-percent funding increase in Gov. Tom Corbett's budget proposal. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Rape crisis services in Pennsylvania receive a ten-percent funding increase in Gov. Tom Corbett's budget proposal. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
January 28, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Some 30,000 women, men and children affected by sexual assaults each year in Pennsylvania could benefit from a funding increase laid out in Governor Tom Corbett's just-released budget proposal. The spending plan calls for a 10 percent increase in funds for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the oldest coalition of its kind in the country, which steers money to 50 rape-crisis centers across the Commonwealth.

According to Coalition spokeswoman Kristen Houser, the funds can be used for education and prevention programs, which, in turn, can help bring victims forward.

"People who are survivors are sort of waiting for a safe place to say to somebody, 'That happened to me and I need help.' So, when you're doing good prevention programs you can expect that survivors will seek you out for services. You need to have both. This funding will support the full spectrum," she said.

She said it's also important to allocate some resources to make sure there are qualified people to respond to sexual-assault complaints.

"We can't keep telling children, 'Tell us if somebody has harmed you or makes you feel weird,' but not have adults that are educated about how to respond and take that seriously."

Houser said another objective is to keep sexual assault victims from being targeted again.

"Many times the aftermath of trauma creates some vulnerabilities in a person's life that other offenders will identify and choose to exploit," she warned.

Houser said that, if the budget item is approved by the Legislature, it will mark the second year running that rape-crisis services have seen a funding boost, following a decade of stagnant levels. The Corbett blueprint also calls for domestic-violence funds to increase from $13.9 million to $15.3 million in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA