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Economic Recession and Women’s Shelters from Unbawse Life Advisory

June 4, 2012
The Economic Recession and Women’s Shelters

Don’t read another word of this post without clicking on the link above first. Sady Doyle is great and when she talks, you should listen. If you’re on this sentence only a couple seconds after reading the last one, that means you didn’t listen to me. Thanks to impatient folks like you, I’ll have to highlight the key statistics in Doyle’s article and force the people who followed my suggestion to see them again:- The Police Executive Research Forum states that 56% of police agencies reported an increase in calls pertaining to abuse this year, up from 40% reporting an increase in 2010. The Mary Kay Foundation reports a 78% increase in the same time period amongst domestic violence shelters that reported to the Foundation. According to Mary Kay, 56% of the shelters reporting also state that the abuse in question has become more violent.

These figures are disturbing enough in a vacuum, but the most ugly part about all of this is that while the need for women’s shelters in increasing due in part to the after effects of the recession, the funding for those very shelters has been decimated. At the same time, average stays at domestic violence shelters have increased by as much as 30% in some jurisdictions because many of the survivors cannot afford housing due to substance abuse, injury, job loss, and other factors that oftentimes become part and parcel of cycles of abuse. This attack on survivors is uncaring and unflinching. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Corbett wants to slash funding for domestic violence shelters by 20% – $40 million in all. This is after some Pennsylvania women’s shelters already saw their funds slashed by 20% between 2010 and 2011. Instead of maintaining preventative measures such as education, Corbett – and many others like him – would rather prop up an unsustainable prison system that has shown repeatedly that it is ill-equipped to deal with the unique challenges presented by domestic abuse. Seriously, think about the cyclical nature of most abusive relationships. Now think about the deliberately cyclical nature of incarceration. Even aberrations in the cycle of the latter eventually lead to even worse cycles, such as solitary confinement. This combination has “recidivism” written in letters the size of clouds; the more prisons take the place of shelters, the more likely that proactive solutions to abuse will wither away.

The reason I say all of that is to say this. I have worked with survivors of domestic abuse. I have worked side by side with court advocates. These folks work heart-wrenching, oftentimes thankless jobs for little pay simply because they are utterly dedicated to helping survivors survive. Court advocates and women’s shelters are already stretched beyond their limits and I think that as [insert pro-woman term of choice here]s, it’s imperative for us to help out however we can. Look into volunteering at or donating to your local women’s shelter. If you don’t have the financial/temporal privilege of doing either, then at least get people talking about this. Call your state representative. Chat up your friends even though this is just about the least fun conversation ever. Do something. You are not a windowless house. Helping survivors matters, and so do you.

Reposted from Unbawse Life Advisory, a tumblr worth following if you are interested in insightful feminist and anti-racist critiques of our culture seamlessly intertwined with Rick Ross references.

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