At a time when the needs of domestic and sexual violence survivors have never been greater, our state has faced drastic cuts to critical funding – affecting how we advocates do our work, and support available for victims and their families when they reach out for help.

Advocate roles at the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County – as well as other agencies in the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence – have been cut, including multiple court advocates the last two years. Emergency shelter and transitional housing space is full. Emergency shelter we provide is intended to be used for 30 to 60 days before survivors move into transitional or permanent housing. The lack of affordable housing options prioritizing victims fleeing violence means survivors must stay in shelter much longer. Longer stays mean less space for additional victims in crisis. Beyond the shelter and housing we provide, survivors have nowhere to go. As we work tirelessly to patch up holes in the blanket of safety we provide for survivors, we continue to be stretched thinner.

We’re at a pivotal moment with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Though the need to invest in services for survivors is not new, it has intensified dramatically during the pandemic. By investing ARPA funds into support for victims, we can begin to address the housing and services crisis survivors face.

Lack of investment in support for victims has weakened the entire continuum of care. It has impaired our ability to support survivors from crisis response through the many years it can take for victims to rebuild their lives so overwhelmingly impacted by abuse. Victims can’t wait for safety. We must invest ARPA funds immediately in meaningful ways to make a difference in the lives of survivors – and save lives.

Mary Roda

West Kingstown

Mary Roda serves as the executive director of the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRCSC).

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