Friday, April 20, 2012

Funding Rape

Did I get your attention? I want to tell you about the rape of funds in non-profit organizations that make claims to assist victims of domestic violence. At this time in April 2012 most of them are on the edge of their seats waiting for Congress to reauthorize funds for the Violence Against Women Act, aka VAWA funds. Without these funds most organizations will tell you that they cannot continue to operate and assist victims. But the real problem lies in the fact that victims rarely receive assistance from these funds; most of the funding goes to pay for salaries of the workers that run them.

Many victims have found out that it is not easy to leave an abusive relationship; they are encouraged to get out, but once they get out they receive nothing more than food, clothing, and temporary shelter. Shelters also may provide assistance with filling out paperwork to obtain a restraining order, but they do not go with you as an advocate to the court hearings and most victims cannot afford attorneys. So if a victim is able to get out of the abuse, they may find themselves without further assistance to start over.

Indeed, many shelters at this time are no longer assisting victims of domestic violence; there is no money right now. The dwindling resources and lack of funding is directly related to a new phenomenon of a focus on assisting the abusers, not the victims. Many organizations are tapping into funds from the Department of Human Services for "Responsible Fatherhood Programs." The shelters set up programs to teach men and boys how to be responsible fathers and men. There are no funds at these shelters for programs that assist victims of the abuse. The funds that are available are being raped and plundered to develop programs for the men, who represent about 5% of the population of victims. The rest are all women and children. So everyday victims of abuse are being turned away, and it becomes a revictimization cycle all over again.

There is no accountability for the use of funding once it is allocated; so only a small percentage of victims ever receive the assistance they need. Most for-profit organizations that receive government funding are required to prove that they have provided assistance to the population they have stated they would assist. It's called Quality Asssurance, and all hospitals and medical facilities that receive medicare and medicaid funding are required by law to prove that they have provided the services that the funds were intended to be utilized for. I advocate that all organizations that purport to provide services to victims of domestic violence be held accountable by similar systems. They need to show that they are not only providing services, but also that the incidence of domestic violence is decreasing as a direct result of the services they provide. We do not have Quality Assurance systems in place yet, but we will if the current trend of victims voices continues to speak out about the realities of rape of our funding in these corrupt systems.

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