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"Our membership in Jane Doe Inc. provides me with a statewide support network, particularly from people of color at all leadership levels, deepening my sense of purpose and vision on a personal, professional and organizational level that ultimately enhances the YWCA’s work with survivors." ~ Vilma Lora, Co-Director of Women’s Services, YWCA of Greater Lawrence

National Studies Expose Epidemic of Sexual and Domestic Violence in Massachusetts, country: Advocates bring message to Beacon Hill, Seek Funding

(Boston, MA):  The levels of sexual violence, rape and intimate partner violence are epidemic in Massachusettsand around the country, according to Jane Doe Inc., the statewide advocacy coalition against sexual and domestic violence in Massachusetts.  With as many as 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men experiencing some form of sexual or domestic violence, the prevalence and pervasiveness of these types of violence require public and private responses of equal proportion.

This will be the message as Jane Doe Inc. and over 120 people from JDI member programs, including staff, volunteers and survivors visit with their legislators on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

This morning, JDI released data from two reports that illustrate the extent of the problem and demand for services along with a third report about how programs in Massachusetts are meeting these needs. Mary R. Lauby, Executive Director of Jane Doe Inc. (JDI) points out that solutions are not unreachable, “While sexual and domestic violence may seem intractable, the story is not completely bleak. These three independent reports singularly and collectively validate the effectiveness of sexual and domestic violence services. The Commonwealth should feel quite confident that pubic funds are well spent. We are very proud to share this evidence that our members are saving and changing lives and making a difference every day.”

Among the findings:

Ø       Nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men in Massachusetts have experienced sexual victimization other than rape in their lifetime.

Ø       Nearly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men in Massachusetts have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Ø       More than 1 in 7 womenin Massachusetts were raped in their lifetime. 

Ø       On one day in September 2011, 1,799 adults and children received services at a domestic violence program in Massachusetts.On that same day, these programs reported 479 unmet requests for services. Over 66% of these unmet requests for services were for domestic violence emergency shelter and housing.

Ø       After seeking and receiving help, 95 percent of survivors reported being more knowledgeable about planning for their safety and more hopeful about the future.

While not part of this study, JDI notes that nearly 12,000 hotline calls were answered by sexual assault programs during FY11.  

Background on the reports along with links to fact sheets, graphics and the full reports are available at:  http://www.janedoe.org/2011_Research_Studies.

This message will be front and center as advocates meet with legislators to seek restoration of funding to their FY2009 funding levels.  The main line items for essential services for victims and survivors across the Commonwealth experienced significant, up to 23%, cuts, since FY2009 and has only been partially restored. Details on the history of funding and current budget request can be found on JDI’s website.  Local sexual and domestic violence programs have not only seen MA state budget reductions, but reductions in Federal budgets and decreases in private giving and greater competition for all discretionary private and public funding.

According to JDI members providing survey data in early 2011, programs have lost 80+ FTE staff positions since July 1, 2009.  During this same timeframe, programs have reported substantial (50-100%) increase in demand for services.

The Massachusetts state budget contributes to less than 50% of total expense budgets of sexual and domestic violence programs (35% of SA; 54% of DV).  In order to continue to address the extensive need in the Commonwealth, JDI is seeking for the FY13 budget to return funding to the FY2009 state budget levels, as follows:

  • DPH 4513-1130 at $6,391,677: Support, outreach and prevention services for people at risk of or who experienced sexual assault; domestic and sexual violence services for refugees and immigrants and for the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) community; and Batterer’s Intervention
  • DCF 4800-1400 at $23,473,036:Support services for people at risk of or who have experienced domestic violence
  • DPH 4510-8100 at $3,623,068: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) and pedi-SANE forensic exams and medical advocacy

The programs and services supported by these line items have been shown to save and rebuild lives. These programs also save money, reducing long term costs to local communities and the state.

Lauby notes, “If these services are not preserved and restored, individual and community safety will be compromised. Without advocacy, support and services, survivors of sexual and domestic violence face greater challenges maintaining a safety and stability for themselves and their children; struggle to maintain stable employment and education; and face longer term adverse health outcomes. Criminal justice proceedings are much more likely to be successful when the victim of the crime is safe, supported and healing.”


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