As we reach the end of day 19 of the government shutdown, federal employees are not the only ones feeling the pinch in their budgets. Across the country, non-profit rape crisis centers like this one, who rely on federal funding to cover salaries and meet operations expenses, are struggling to make rent and keep the power on.
The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which allocates grant funding to over a thousand non-profit agencies throughout the United States, has reached its expiration during the shutdown that began on December 22nd. VAWA, which has been renewed and modified several times over the last two decades, is currently due for re-authorization by Congress, a necessity which will likely not proceed without the critical funding available to keep it going.
The Office on Violence against Women (OVW) administers VAWA funds via 25 grant programs, serving as the largest single source of funding for many rape crisis centers like The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors in Newport News. Many other non-profit service providers will suffer the impact of this shutdown as well, such as domestic violence response services and women’s shelters, child advocacy organizations, and civil rights advocacy programs, including criminal prosecutors.
Halting services for sexual assault response and prevention is a dangerous risk to people all over the United States. Studies by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) show that survivors who seek help after experiencing sexual violence not only receive better access to resources and services in their area, but also experience fewer re-victimizations in the judicial process and limit the secondary traumas of navigating their recovery.
As the government shutdown continues, operating funds in non-profit organizations like The Center continue to dwindle. Many have already struggled to adjust following recent budget cuts and sequestration in congressional disputes over the budget, just a few months ago.
We at The Center, though our advocacy programs are greatly bolstered by the help of volunteers, also provide crisis counseling services, training of first responders in trauma-informed services, and professional collaboration in the response and prevention of sexual violence within our surrounding communities. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to The Center in this unpredictable time. For more information about how your donation can help, please contact The Center staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.