FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2011
(Atlanta) Hundreds expressed their concerns to Georgia legislators today over the Governor’s proposal to cut a total of $4.5 million dollars in state funds to domestic violence and sexual assault centers and replace it with less flexible federal funding from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) during the 12th Annual Stop Violence Against Women Day at the State Capitol. Federal TANF restrictions may prevent the use of TANF dollars for services currently supported by state dollars, such as operating costs, and services to single adults without children, who make up an average of thirty-one percent of Georgia’s domestic violence victims served. With Georgia’s current ranking of 10th in the nation for the rate at which men kill women, this funding proposal creates a concern for many, including the Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Nicole Lesser.
“Although the governor has proposed to replace the state funds with TANF funds, this is not a viable solution, due to the changing federal rules and regulations around the use of funds and the overall stability of TANF funds,” she explained.
Congress is in the process of reauthorizing TANF, which means that the requirements tied to these funds may be changing.
“Given the fiscal crisis at the federal level, cuts in Georgia’s total TANF block grant appear to be likely in the coming years. This change could have long-term implications for victims’ ability to access services,” Lesser said.
Additionally, the staffing, reporting and confidentiality requirements needed to quality victims for TANF, present further strain on domestic violence service providers that had to turn away nearly 2,700 victims and their children in 2010 due to lack of space. That same year, domestic violence and sexual assault programs answered nearly 76,000 crisis calls and provided safe housing for 7,544 domestic violence victims and their children.
Despite the concern over funding, engaged citizens, advocates, law enforcement, attorneys, legislators, judges, medical personnel, friends and family of victims, and survivors expressed hope in the ongoing work of changing attitudes that contribute to violence against women. Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Cri$tyle was in attendance to inspire the audience and share her personal story about witnessing domestic violence as a child.
“This is a subject that I can relate to as a former child victim of domestic violence. I think it’s very important for people to support this cause because of how many people are suffering from abuse right next door to us and we don’t have a clue how to help,” Cri$tyle said.
One speaker, immigration attorney, Rosa de-Kelly discussed how all women deserve to live free from violence.
“Immigrant victims bear an additional layer of risk when reporting violence perpetuated against them. The risk of isolation from support systems, inadequate access to language or cultural specific services and the fear of deportation can often be the determining decision for those wishing to flee from violence. The proposed legislation in our state would possibly further limit their choice of safety and could increase their risk of re-victimization or fatality,” de-Kelly explained.
According to the 2009 Domestic Violence Fatality Review Annual Report produced by the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCADV) and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV), one of the most effective ways to reduce fatalities is for the community to get involved and learn ways to detect the warning signs that violence is escalating, explained GCFV Interim Executive Director Greg Loughlin.
“The most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is when they are in the process of leaving. If you are concerned about someone, invite them to call 1.800.334.2836 to talk to a domestic violence advocate about how they can plan for their safety,” he urged.
Media Contact: Susan L. Swain
Phone: 404.209.0280 x. 23