Get Ready to Say Goodbye to Domestic Violence Programs Around the U.S.

Written by Bryce Covert

Domestic violence programs across the country say they have received letters from federal offices that dole out grant money informing them that after October 4, if the government is not reopened, they will cease operations and the programs won’t be able to draw down the funds they normally rely on. While some may be able to weather the storm, small, rural programs and those that rely heavily on federal money are looking at layoffs and disruptions in service.

On Thursday, a reader who runs a domestic violence and rape crisis center in Northern California shared a letter with Andrew Sullivan received from the Office of Justice Programs, which disburses funds from the Violence Against Women Act:

Office of Justice Programs (OJP) have sufficient resources to remain operational through Friday, October 4, 2013. This means that OJP staff will be available to assist grantees and OJP payment systems and services will be available through October 4, 2013. Should funding not be restored by October 4, 2013, OJP will cease all operations and California will not be able to draw down funds and reimburse your invoices.

Other programs confirmed they had gotten similar letters from OJP and other agencies. “The whole country has been told the same thing by the Office on Violence Against Women,” Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told ThinkProgress. “We also have coalitions across the country that have been unable to draw down their reimbursements from FVPSA [Family Violence Prevention and Services Act] for funds already expended, which means they don’t have operating funds going forward. Some are already discussing layoffs.”

The impact of the loss of funds for those who serve and support victims of violence will vary depending on how much they rely on federal money and how their budgets are structured. Joyce Grover, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, said that after the drawdown system closes on Friday, “it will be a day to day question, especially for very small programs.” Grantees have been drawing down whatever funds they can before then, but “disruption in services may happen in the shutdown goes on for a significant time,” she said. “Most programs receive funds on a reimbursement basis, so building a reserve is very difficult.”

Some programs ThinkProgress spoke to are the lucky ones that have a bit of a cushion to keep operations going. While the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence has received the letter from OJP and “our other federal funds are also in limbo as a result of the shutdown,” Executive Director Deborah DeBare said, “we have at least a month of funding in reserves to keep our programs open for the immediate future.”

Julie Bornhoeft, director of development and community relations for WEAVE, a dual service agency serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Sacramento, said that because the organization has been able to diversify its funding to the point where less than half is federal money, it will have “greater flexibility and stability.” But she warned that “for an organization that is predominantly funded through federal grants or federally derived grants, even temporary disruption in cash flow will be detrimental.”

That seems to be the case for the Sullivan reader. “I run a small, rural domestic violence and rape crisis center in Northern California,” the reader wrote. “We are the only provider of this kind for the entire county and we are supported through funds from the Violence Against Women Act.” This will have severe consequences. “I can tell you with some certainty that many of the rural domestic violence shelters (who don’t have wealthy communities to draw from) will not be operational should the VAWA funding not be rolling down as scheduled.”

Domestic violence programs have been grappling with severe budget cuts for some time. Even before sequestration, nearly 80 percent of shelters nationwide reported getting less funding from the government, and 43 percent said that lower funding would result in pulling back on services. Sequestration meant a $20 million reduction in funding that was predicted to result in 70,120 fewer victims getting access to recovery programs and shelters.

But more and more women have been seeking help as the same economic troubles caused by the recession and stagnant recovery have increased and intensified abuse. Eight in 10 shelters report an increase in women seeking help, and nearly 60 percent say the abuse is more violent than before the crisis. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters of women are staying longer with their abuser for economic reasons. After sequestration, many programs told ThinkProgress that the likely consequence of budget cuts would be more abuse and, ultimately, more deaths. Those consequences are likely to intensify while the government remains shut down.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck4 years ago

So sad&bad!

Rose Becke4 years ago


Irina Brenner
Irina Brenner4 years ago

"Freedom is the possibility of being generous. You can afford to open yourself and walk on the path easily - without defending yourself or watching yourself be self-conscious all the time. It is the absence of ego, the absense of self-consciousness. That is the ultimate freedom. The absense of self-conciousness brings ...generosity. You don't have to watch for dangers or be careful that you are going too far or too slow. It is the confidence which is freedom, rather than breaking free from chains of imprisonment, exactly. Developing confidence and breaking out of psychological, internal imprisonment brings freedom naturally. In other words, it is generosity." -CTR

Marianne B.
Marianne B4 years ago

This is NOT a good thing. This is a much needed service.

Debbie Wood
Debbie Wood4 years ago

The more I read about the effect that this shutdown is having, the madder I get.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson4 years ago

The government attacks the little guy,

the most vulnerable of all,

females with children.

It is their specialty.

The government does it so well.

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M4 years ago

"More and more women have been seeking help as the same economic troubles caused by the recession and stagnant recovery have increased and intensified abuse. Eight in 10 shelters report an increase in women seeking help, and nearly 60 percent say the abuse is more violent than before the crisis. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters of women are staying longer with their abuser for economic reasons."
Terrible injustice in my opinion!
Thank You Think Progress and Bryce for writing this article.

Marianne C.
Marianne C4 years ago

No doubt the GOP will be thrilled that a few more women will be battered, beaten, and killed with no protection in oplace and nowhere to go for help. They have made their hatred of women so clear, one can almost imagine them slapping each other high fives after each reported female fatality. "Whoo hoo! Another woman put in her place -- the ground!"

@Joseph B:

That "B" stands for "Bullpuckey," doesn't it? The Tea Party has nothing to do with patriotism. Destroying the government and shredding the Constitution are not the acts of patriots. These are the acts of anarchists. The problem is, you are all so dim you fail to comprehend that you are not even true anarchists; you are merely corporate tools, funded by the Kochs for their own purposes and to meet their own ends. The Tea Party will most certainly "go away" as soon as it's no longer of any use to its corporate masters. I hope you weren't counting on anything in return for your blind and witless support of their attempts to create a corporatocracy in the place of our democratic republic, with a corporate mission statement replacing the Constitution, and human rights consigned to File 13 for shredding.

My only question is this: with that much biological waste coming out of your mouth, whatever is your rectum for?

Brian Schrader
Brian Schrader4 years ago

It is a convenient reason to shut down the programs. Many government officials hated these programs to begin with.