Domestic violence advocates have been working nonstop to support survivors as the pandemic stretches into its third year. Each September, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) takes a snapshot of the services met and unmet by local domestic violence agencies across the country on a single day. The latest point-in-time count was conducted across the U.S. with over 1,500 domestic violence programs on September 9, 2021. On this day in Virginia, 40 local domestic violence and dual domestic/sexual violence agencies reported serving 1,259 victims, including 692 adults and children staying in emergency shelter or transitional housing and 567 survivors receiving supportive services, such as counseling, legal advocacy, and support groups. These numbers do not reflect all services provided, given that fewer than 70% of domestic violence and dual agencies (i.e., those serving domestic violence and sexual assault survivors) in Virginia participated in this survey. In addition, this count does not include services provided to survivors of sexual assault, whether offered by dual agencies or standalone sexual assault crisis centers.
Nonetheless, the data reflects the tremendous work advocates do every day. Advocates can change survivors’ lives, helping them heal and move forward after abuse. Yet, the pandemic has strained local domestic violence programs’ resources at a time when the need for them has increased. Data from this point-in-time count also illustrates the unmet needs in our communities. On this day, survivors of domestic violence made 36 requests for services that went unmet because local agencies lacked the resources to meet the need. More than 75% of these requests were for housing and emergency shelter.
While society seeks to move past the pandemic, its effects continue to ripple throughout our communities. Pre-pandemic barriers to survivor safety, including a lack of housing, childcare, and economic security, were exacerbated by COVID-19. Moreover, the impact for survivors of color is greater as they face ongoing oppression and systemic discrimination that often prevents them from accessing needed resources.
Virginia’s domestic violence agencies have shifted from handling the short-term COVID-19 pandemic crisis to managing longer-term changes as they adapt their organizations, programs and resources to meet survivors’ needs in an altered landscape. The pandemic continues to impact local agencies that have struggled to maintain staffing and meet community needs as pandemic-era relief programs are ending. As with other frontline workers, staff at local agencies are exhausted and burnt out from struggling to keep emergency services and support programs operating throughout the pandemic.
We join our colleagues at NNEDV in calling for increased funding at the federal level for domestic and sexual violence programs, with a particular focus on shelter, housing, services, legal assistance, culturally specific programs, and funding for tribes and tribal programs.
In Virginia, we’re advocating for increased funding at the state level as legislators continue to solidify Virginia’s budget. Longer-term, we need policies that provide workplace protections, promote economic justice, center the needs of survivors of color, expand protections for immigrant survivors, and ensure affordable housing for survivors.
Take action! Help secure $9 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for Virginia’s sexual and domestic violence agencies. Contact legislators as they prepare to reconvene on April 4 to negotiate and finalize Virginia’s budget.
Domestic Violence Counts Report: Virginia Summary: https://nnedv.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/16th-Annual-Domestic-Violence-Counts-Virginia-Summary-FINAL.pdf
16th Annual Domestic Violence Counts Full Report: https://nnedv.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/16th-Annual-Domestic-Violence-Counts-Full-Report-FINAL.pdfRead more news