Meeting the Unmet Need

To ensure that every victim who reaches out for help receives that help, all of us – community leaders, policy makers, funders, victim advocates, health care providers, law enforcement and courts, and social service providers  –  need to be involved and do our part. 

Funding Challenges and Impact on Victims

When victims take the difficult step to reach out for help, they deserve to find immediate services and support. Many are in dangerous and life-threatening situations and immediately accessing emergency shelter, crisis counseling and advocacy is critical. Unfortunately, current funding does not allow programs to keep pace with the demand. Funding is now more essential than ever to ensure that programs across the country can keep the lights on, answer crisis calls, and provide essential services to victims and their families reaching out to them. 

On Census Day, we helped a survivor who escaped abuse in the middle of the night with her two children. When she arrived, she was very upset, saying things like, ‘I am so afraid he will end up killing me, the kids, or himself. I have to protect them.’ An advocate was able to get a room set up for the children and continue safety planning with the mother. They developed a plan that would help her feel safe while out in the community.
— Shared by an advocate from Pennsylvania

Critical Unmet Needs

Across the country, domestic violence programs and shelters are operating with less funding, fewer resources, and reduced staff while requests for services remain high. As NNEDV’s Domestic Violence Counts 2017 report documents, “the economic environment of the last decade has resulted in a combination of fewer private funds, fewer community donations, and reduced state and local funding. While some funding streams have been increased at the federal level, the distribution of those funds had not yet reached most programs by September 14, 2016. This long-term shortage of resources has been compounded by a reduction in funding for other social services upon which victims often rely, such as low-income housing, mental health services, and more” (Domestic Violence Counts 2017, NNEDV).

A survivor called, terrified to leave her abuser because of her children. He threatened to take them from her if she left. We do not have access to free or low-cost assistance with custody cases. We receive several calls per week from victims in the same situation as she is in.
— Shared by an advocate in North Carolina

In 2014, programs funded by the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act provided services to 1.3 million adults, youth and children. NNEDV’s 2017 DV Counts Census found that on just one day, across the United States and U.S. Territories, 72,959 adults and children received services from domestic violence programs. Unfortunately, 11,991 requests for services went unmet due to lack of resources.

Unmet Requests Chart
Pie chart

What happens when services are not available?

We know from research and experience that survivors who are unable to access services or receive the full range of services that would be helpful to them have limited options. Many report that they must return to their abusive partner or remain or become homeless. Other potential consequences include ending up financially ruined and/or facing bankruptcy, being forced to relocate which may also involve losing a job or critical social supports, and becoming further isolated from family and friends.