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Report: No Help for Some KY Domestic Violence Victims

PHOTO: Insufficient resources are the root cause of why some domestic violence victims' calls for help are unmet, according to new national research. Photo credit: Greg Stotelmyer.
PHOTO: Insufficient resources are the root cause of why some domestic violence victims' calls for help are unmet, according to new national research. Photo credit: Greg Stotelmyer.
May 5, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky's ability to offer support to victims of domestic violence is better than the national average, but there are still not enough resources to help everyone, immediately, according to a new survey.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence tracked a single 24-hour period nationwide in September.

That day in Kentucky, nearly 1,100 victims received services – but 90 could not be helped, and 50 of them were seeking emergency refuge in one of the state's 15 shelters.

"There comes a point where you can only put so many people on couches and pull out so many roll-away beds, and pull out so many sleeping bags,” says Mary O'Doherty, assistant director of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association. “We squeezed as many families as we could in, on that day."

O'Doherty says Kentucky has a well-organized network of shelters – yet according to the research, 60 percent of the 90 victims who could not get help that day returned to the abusers they were trying to flee.

"You know, those were pretty extreme situations,” O'Doherty points out. “It's pretty hard for a survivor to get up the courage to leave, and to take her children and leave – and it's heartbreaking that, when they finally were able to make that break and do it, they were turned down."

The report says another 33 percent became homeless, while 7 percent opted to live in their vehicle.

O'Doherty says the one-day snapshot illustrates how prevalent domestic violence is and therefore, the huge demand for services.

The Legislature did increase funding in the new state budget, but O'Doherty says not by enough to deal with all the calls for help.

"So yes, we need more federal funding, yes we need more state funding,” she says. “But we also need more private support, too.

“All of our programs work hard to try to get local donations in their communities, but that's really hard to do when you're in a small, rural community."

The survey found that while nearly 67,000 people received help during the 24-hour period nationwide, the needs of more than 9,600 went unmet.

And that day, the report says two women were killed by their abusive partners.



Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY