Domestic violence is a public safety issue and no funding sends the message that California’s leadership does not care about the lives of its most vulnerable citizens.
Domestic violence programs save lives everyday as victims of abuse seek refuge in emergency shelters throughout the state.
Eliminating our funding does not change our State mandate for 24-hour coverage and calls for emergency shelter continue on our 24-hour crisis hotline. Six shelters closed in 2009 and, while most shelter programs have survived so far, the elimination of the funding has caused all agencies to lay off staff and reduce services. We will continue to see additional casualties of the budget elimination in 2010 with more shelter closures.
Shelters often receive hotline calls in the middle of the night from a terrified victim who has fled a violent home with their children and all their belongings stuffed into one bag.
They have no where to go and, Governor, I ask you what will we say when bed space is scarce or non-existent? It will be a heartbreaking experience knowing that someone’s life is on the line and there are fewer and fewer resources.
Domestic violence is a serious and far-reaching social problem. It is a family issue, it is a community issue – if our families are in crisis, our community is in crisis. Domestic violence is a problem that cannot be ignored. Our community witnessed its first domestic violence related death of 2010 on January 14th where a woman was killed by her husband. Santa Clarita also witnessed four domestic violence related deaths in 2009, one of which was an 18 year old girl strangled to death by her boyfriend.
Under the proposed budget, the Domestic Violence Center of the Santa Clarita Valley, which is the only agency providing comprehensive domestic violence services in the 200-square mile Santa Clarita Valley, will continue to experience significant losses in funding. As the Center’s Executive Director, I am deeply concerned about the lack of funding and the negative impact it will undoubtedly have on families suffering at the hands of a violent perpetrator. I think about every client who has come through our doors, their horrific experiences of abuse, and what it would have meant if our Center had not been here.
Our staff works diligently around the clock to provide safety, sanctuary, and supportive services with the utmost confidentiality, sensitivity, and compassion. It is crucial that services to our community continue.
The Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley is asking for community and legislative support to keep its doors open. Without the support of our community, more victims will suffer in silence.
Nicole Shellcroft, MSW, MA is the Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Center of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Visit www.dvcsantaclarita.com or call the outreach center (661) 259-8175 to find out how to support the work of this important agency.