Domestic violence on rise
Three out of five victims of sexual or domestic violence don't know where to go for help, victims' advocates with the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual or Domestic Violence said Wednesday in Topeka.
Sandy Barnett, executive director of the coalition, said victims in Kansas had limited access to help for years, but an increase in funding from the Legislature three years ago expanded coverage of the state's crisis centers.
Coalition members met Wednesday for the annual Safe Homes, Safe Streets Awareness day to discuss an increase in victims and possible funding cuts.
Barnett said statistics released by crisis centers across the state confirmed her suspicion that the number of victims would rise with the level of funding.
"Now we're getting the first revelations," Barnett said. "Oh my goodness — the floodgates have opened."
Sharon Katz, executive director of Safehome Inc., in Overland Park, said the center relocated to a larger facility two years ago after lack of space forced it to turn away 542 victims in 2006. Despite the addition of about 15 beds, the center turned away 1,302 people in 2008.
The center is one of six in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
"Education and awareness are up," Katz said. "People know (help) is there. It's hard to say if domestic violence or sexual assault is increasing dramatically."
Laura Patzner, executive director of the Family Crisis Center in Great Bend, said the center had a 42 percent increase in the number of victims over the past two years.
The Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center had a 30 percent increase in the number of victims taken in during 2008, said Kathy Williams, executive director.
Judy Davis, executive director of The Crisis Center and Kansas Crisis Hotline, in Manhattan, said the number of victims receiving services in 2008 increased by about 12.5 percent, with the hotline receiving a 10 percent call increase. She said the women's shelter provided 5,600 nights of stay in 2008.
"It made it a hard year," Davis said.
Advocates said the spiraling economy could spur a further increase for demand as families on the brink of abuse experience added stress. The coalition is hoping for funding to remain at current levels as the need for help increases.
"The economy becomes an excuse," Katz said. "It increases stress in a family that is already broken."Technorati Tags: Domestic,violence,KansaS,Kevin,Elliott,Three,victims,Coalition,Against,Sexual,Topeka,Sandy,Barnett,director,Legislature,coverage,crisis,Safe,statistics,suspicion,Sharon,Katz,Safehome,Overland,Park,Despite,addition,area,Education,People,Laura,Patzner,Center,Great,Bend,Wichita,Assault,Kathy,Williams,Judy,Davis,Hotline,Manhattan,services,brink,members,Streets,revelationsNote: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.