Domestic violence victim services lacking resources to help all
FULTON - More victims of domestic violence are seeking help, but many services were not met in Missouri last year due to a lack of resources.
Statistics from the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) reveals around 35,000 people used domestic violence services in Missouri last year.
MCADSV CEO Colleen Coble said 30,000 Missouri domestic violence services were not met last year.
"The downside is that there is about that same number who are seeking services, be it safe shelter or legal advocacy or counseling, and the programs don't have enough resources for them," Coble said.
The Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) offers services such as counseling, court advocacy and support groups for victims of domestic violence. A representative from this Fulton-based non-profit said the organization is understaffed.
"In 2013 our staff size was reduced significantly because of funding cuts and between 2013-2014 we served 10 percent more than the year before," CARDV Executive Director Erica Nanney said.
MCADSV statistics show there has been an increase in victims seeking domestic violence services in Missouri, but both Coble and Nanney said this is likely because people are more aware of domestic violence services and feel more comfortable seeking help.
Nanney said it takes the average person 7 times to leave an abusive relationship.
“Throughout the state of Missouri we really don’t have the resources for affordable housing for a lot of families and that sometimes makes it difficult when you have to make a choice to leave a violent relationship to leave your home. The question is where am I going to go? Where will the kids and I going to be safe? So having those resources in every is a goal we have yet to achieve,” Coble said.
CARDV has a weekly support group for survivors. Last year for Domestic Violence Awareness Month survivors wrote down reasons why they stayed in their abusive relationhsip and reasons why they eventually left the abusive relationship.
Some reasons survivors wrote why they stayed include:
- "He threatened to hurt my family and me if I left him. He always followed through with his threats before."
- "I convinced myself the good times were worth the bad."
- "Isolation and loneliness."
Reasons survivors wrote why they left include:
- "People believed me."
- "I realized I love myself more than he ever did."
- "Because I wanted to live."
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Nanney said 1 in 3 women will exprience atleast one act of physical violence at the hands of her intimate partner and 1 in 4 women will experience sever physical violence at the hands of their intimate partner.
Callaway County Sherriff's Office Lt. Clay Chism said Callaway County Law Enforcement sees over 400 domestic violence related calls a year.
"It's very important that the community understands the magnitude and significance of domestic violence in the county. Most county citizens do not realize the number of domestic violence calls we respond to in a years' time," Chism said.
Nanney said an important part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is learning the warning signs of an abusive relationship.
“We know one of the big characteristics of domestic violence relationships is isolation. The victim is isolated from reaching out to friends and family,” Nanney said.
Coble said people are beginning to recognize that domestic violence is not only a crime, but a public health threat.
Lt. Chism said domestic violence can be very dangerous.
"Domestic violence can be deadly and it has been deadly here in Callaway County," Chism said.
Nanney said what CARDV needs the most right now to serve the most victims possible is volunteers. Volunteers can apply online.
Although resources are low, Nanney wants victims to know one important message.
“There are so many factors that make Domestic Violence Awareness Month important. I think first and foremost, one of the most important things is it being an opportunity to reach out to victims and survivors and people who are in abusive relationships and let them know you are not alone. There is help and hope and we are here for you,” Nanney said.
Victims of domestic violence can seek help through local services listed below.