For Immediate Release
May 9, 2023
2700 N. Central Ave, Suite 1100
Phoenix, AZ 85004
602-279-2900 / 1-800-782-6400
AZ COALITION TO END SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RELEASE DEVASTATING IMPACT TO SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS AND PROGRAMS DUE TO FEDERAL FUNDING CUTS
Domestic violence survivors need a place to flee to when experiencing life-threatening violence. Sexual assault survivors need medical care and support following their victimization. Child abuse survivors need resources to protect the most vulnerable from harm. These services are all at risk due to a devastating cut of over significant cuts of over half of their funding.
Arizona sexual and domestic violence programs are funded through a variety of sources including federal and state funds along with corporate and individual gifts from generous donors. A primary funder of services for victims of crime since 1984, has been the Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) Crime Victims Fund, a non-taxpayer source of federal funding funded by penalties from federal criminal convictions. VOCA funds most sexual and domestic violence service providers throughout the country and state. Recipients of this funding were notified recently of significant cuts of 53 to 56%, over half of what they historically receive.
VOCA funding is administered by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and supports life-saving services, including emergency shelters, child and family advocacy centers, crisis hotlines, legal services, victim advocates, and counseling and programs for victims throughout Arizona. There are approximately 150 VOCA-funded community-based programs in Arizona, serving over 250,000 victims annually. These programs use VOCA funding to staff programs that are essential for victims in every community. Legal services funded by VOCA help protect the rights of crime victims in criminal cases involving their abusers, as well as helping victims and their children obtain protective orders and to secure long-term safety, security, and financial stability in family court. VOCA also supports children’s services programs that allow communities to respond to child abuse.
Without exaggeration, all VOCA-funded programs and services will be harmed, and some programs that now provide these essential services will be forced to close their doors. Those that remain will have reduced staff, reduced services, and reduced capacity. In the end, survivors of sexual and domestic violence will be impacted with increased barriers to accessing critical lifesaving services.
While VOCA-funded programs serve a quarter of a million victims each year, a critical gap in services persists. Our population increases and rising housing costs have created a critical need for safe housing for survivors of domestic violence. For those individuals who are not able to find safety, the consequences can be extremely dire, including continued exposure to life-threatening violence or homelessness. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges facing victims, and it has disproportionately impacted indigenous communities and communities of color.
ACESDV has been advocating at the Arizona legislature to bridge the gap in funding with state funds in order for these essential programs to remain open, retain staff, and services. Jenna Panas, CEO of ACESDV, states, “ACESDV and sexual and domestic violence programs will be devastated by this funding loss. We know this is going to have an enormous effect on programs who serve victims of crime throughout our state. We hope by bringing awareness to this loss in federal funding, our Arizona legislators are able to ensure survivors continue to be able access services for healing, safety, and justice.”
About the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) works to dismantle oppression and promote equity among all people, focusing on increasing public awareness about sexual and domestic violence and enhancing safety and services for survivors. ACESDV was originally founded as the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1980, so that concerned citizens and professionals could unite in a statewide organization to end domestic violence. In 2013, the coalition became the designated dual coalition to address both sexual and domestic violence in Arizona, thus becoming the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. ACESDV provides training and technical assistance to responders, service providers, and community members, engages in public policy advocacy and public awareness initiatives, and provides direct services through the Arizona Sexual and Domestic Violence Helpline and online chat. To learn more visit www.acesdv.org and www.arizonasurvivors.org
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
Jenna Panas, (817) 939-1577