The Status of Women in North Carolina report, published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the NC Council for Women, lays out some disturbing numbers not only about the prevalence of domestic violence but also the shortage of services available to people in crisis.
Because sexual violence often occurs within the context of domestic violence, the programs for the two are closely linked. North Carolina funds these programs through the NC Council for Women, which provides about $12 million per year in grants to programs that serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as displaced homemakers (people who provided unpaid household services to their homes and now are unable to secure employment due to lack of training or experience).
“We fund about 235 agencies across North Carolina,” said Beth Briggs, executive director of the NC Council for Women. “There need to be places throughout North Carolina that women can go to be safe. In the case of sexual assault, women need a place to go where people are understanding and can talk to them about what it means and provide them with safety and protection. We need to make sure there are places in every community that provide the kind of support and counseling that women need.”
There is evidence that the need for domestic violence services outstrips the supply in North Carolina. In 2011, 51 local domestic violence programs in North Carolina participated in a census with the National Network to End Domestic Violence. According to the Status of Women report, in the 24-hour period covered by the census, those programs “served 1,526 victims, 682 of whom were provided emergency shelter or transitional housing and 844 of whom received non-residential assistance such as counseling, legal advocacy, and children’s support. Still, 287 requests for services went unmet, reflecting a shortage of funds and staff.”
That’s 287 people—most if not all women and children—afraid for their safety but unable to get the help they need. And that’s just one day.