Domestic Violence Numbers Up, Funding Down for Advocacy Centers
The Maine Department of Public Safety says more than 5,000 cases of domestic violence were reported in Maine in 2012. Margo Batsie, Member Services Coordinator for The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence says the increase has been ongoing, “for the second year in a row we’ve seen about a 5% increase in domestic violence cases being reported to law enforcement throughout Maine.” But experts say this doesn’t necessarily mean more crime is happening.Amanda Cost, Program Coordinator at Spruce Run says the community has raised awareness in the past few years. “People are aware that there are services available that can be helpful to them, and that law enforcement can and will respond to them in a helpful way, so that’s why we’re seeing the crime rates go up.”Awareness walks and a coordinated police effort have encouraged victims to come forward. But funding cuts may prevent advocacy centers like Spruce Run in Bangor from giving victims the help they need.Cost says they’re doing more with less, “we actually have about five positions that we’ve had to hold open over the course of the last three years and not able to hire for those positions because we’ve seen a steady decrease in funding particularly form the federal government.”Not only does the funding loss mean fewer employees for Spruce Run, it means less help for those victims who need it.Services like ours really do save lives, really do, and prioritizing services like these over other costly endeavors …. people’s lives should be a priority” Cost said.