Domestic Violence Programs Funding Cuts

A new report says 38,000 people in Nevada received services at domestic-violence programs last year. Experts say there’s nothing surprising or shocking in the latest numbers. In fact, the real story may be what they don’t show.

The report issued by the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence is an annual check up on the support available to victims. On one hand it is sobering. More than 38,000 people sought help from domestic violence organizations around the state in 2006.

Twenty percent of them needed help getting Protection Order from the courts, 28 percent got counseling, and in all, emergency shelters were used more than 57,000 times last year.

However, you won't find the most important number anywhere in the report. It's 25 percent. The amount the state has just cut its funding of those organizations, something they only learned a month ago.

State funding for organizations like Washoe County's Committee to Aid Abused Women comes from a chunk of marriage license fees. But the sale of marriage licenses is down. It's been declining for decades in Washoe County and last year the number also fell in Clark County. The state department of Health and Human Resources had little choice but to cut funding, but the short notice gave the organizations little chance to seek relief elsewhere. Less money means cuts.

These programs are going to do the best they can. But even though direct services may not be eliminated, important efforts like fund raising and outreach may be cut. And that may mean we see the numbers in next year's report decline, but that won't mean we're making progress against domestic violence. It may reflect the opposite: fewer services to fewer people in need.