Although domestic violence deaths were at a 20-year low in 2012, the troubling start to the new year has prompted women’s rights advocates to petition state legislatures to allocate more funds to combat domestic abuse.
In 2012 there were 19 reported cases of homicide connected with domestic abuse, but there have already been eight such cases in less than three months in 2013.
To voice their opinions, domestic violence victims’ advocates gathered at the State Capital on Tuesday to ask for $3 million in funding over the next two years to help put a stop to domestic violence.
“[Domestic violence] won’t go away unless we collectively work on this issue,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger.
State officials were encouraged when the 2012 Femicide Report showed that the 19 deaths in 2012 represented a 20-year low, but the state is on pace for 41 domestic violence deaths in 2013. That’s 41 too many.
Domestic abuse has been in the news recently, as a St. Paul husband has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kira Trevino. Trevino has been missing since February 24, and there is dwindling hope that she’ll be found alive.
Many advocates point to the lack of funding for domestic abuse services. Seven counties and four reservation communities had state funding for domestic abuse services taken away, and three domestic violence programs in Fillmore, Carlton and St. Louis counties have had to close due to lack of funds.
“It’s very alarming,” said Bree Adams Bill, who works as program manager for the St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.
63,267 domestic abuse victims sought services from abuse programs in 2012, but officials feel that number greatly under-represents the actual number of victims. According to their reports, only one in five abuse victims seek professional services.
Lack of state funding isn’t the only reason domestic violence programs have had to close their doors in recent years. Advocates say donations and foundation funding as decreased roughly 10-20% over the past two years.
“Violence against women is preventable, but to be successful, we need continued funding and support from policymakers, business leaders and the wide range of communities that make Minnesota great,” said Dr. Oliver Williams, who works with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence, please speak up. Contact the police and an attorney to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe.
Related source: Star-Tribune