On September 17, 2008, HELP of Door County Inc. participated in the 2008 national census of domestic violence services organized by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). NNEDV conducts the 24-hour survey of domestic violence programs to “capture a snapshot of domestic violence and service providers in the United States.”
HELP was joined by 1,553 other domestic violence programs which amounts to 78 percent of identified domestic violence programs in the United States and its territories. The census numbers are astonishing.
• 60,799 domestic violence victims were served in this one day.
• In Wisconsin, 1,526 victims were served
• 30,366 adults and children received individual support services such as counseling, legal advocacy or support groups.
• In Wisconsin, 784 adults and children received individual support services.
• 21,683 hotline calls were answered
• In Wisconsin, 668 hotline calls were answered
• 30, 210 individuals were educated in prevention and education trainings
• In Wisconsin, 1,371 were educated in prevention and education trainings.
The “snapshot” census also reveals a growing problem facing domestic violence programs nationally. The inability of domestic violence programs to meet the needs of the community due to funding problems, lack of staff, lack of shelter, and the lack of affordable legal representation.
• 8,927 unmet requests for services in one day
• In Wisconsin, 346 unmet requests for services
• In Wisconsin, only 9 percent of domestic violence programs reported being able to regularly connect a victim with an attorney.
The numbers remind us that domestic violence is happening every day, in every state and in every county. It allows communities to see the problem of domestic violence not through generic statistics and estimations but through concrete, realistic calculations of a social epidemic.
According to NNEDV, “this year’s census reveals an appalling picture of the problem. But even more disturbing is another picture: the frightening reality of a bad economy that hits victims of domestic violence especially hard.” Additionally NNEDV president, Sue Else, states that “during a time of economic uncertainty, when there are not enough jobs and even less resources, domestic violence victims are directly affected. Right now, victims are unable to meet even their most basic needs. As unemployment opportunities and safe housing becomes increasingly scarce women and children are left more vulnerable to violence.”
Nothing could be closer to the truth for the domestic violence victims of Door County. Victims of domestic violence have many barriers that hinder their ability to leave an abusive relationship or continue to provide a safe and violence free home. Economic hardship is a primary barrier. According to the Department of Workforce Development the December unemployment rate for Door County was 7.8 percent. During these economic times victims have fewer options. Jobs are scarce, family and friends have less to give and organizations and churches – those that would normally bridge the financial gap for victims – are struggling to keep up with the needs of the community. Consequently, as the census revealed, the ability to fulfill the needs of the victim decreases.
The September 17 census of domestic violence statistics in Door County continued to show the need for domestic violence services and prevention in the county. In 2008, HELP of Door County, Inc. assisted 126 women, 10 men, and 33 children in domestic violence relationships. This resulted in 449 hours spent with individuals. These alarming statistics mirror the national “snapshot” of domestic violence and remind our community that domestic violence is not just a problem elsewhere in the state or the country, but is a problem right here in Door County.
For more information about domestic abuse, please call HELP of Door County, Inc. at 920.743.8818 or 1.800.91.HELP.1. The National Census of Domestic Violence Services is available online at http://www.nnedv.org/census.
This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence.