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Nicole Shellcroft: ‘You can’t operate a hotline for 12 hours a day’

SCV Voices

Posted: August 8, 2009 6:28 p.m.
Updated: August 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The Domestic Violence Center of the Santa Clarita Valley is in dire straits.

As a result of the governor's line-item veto last week - which eliminated 100 percent of state funding for domestic violence center programs - the Santa Clarita Valley Domestic Violence Center lost nearly half of its annual budget and is facing the loss of crucial domestic violence services to residents of the Santa Clarita Valley.

In 2008, the Domestic Violence Center served more than 1,000 victims of domestic violence, and those numbers continue to rise.

While some might think that losing half of our budget equates to a reduction in services by 50 percent, that is not how it works.

You can't cut a domestic violence shelter in half; you can't operate an emergency hotline 12 hours per day, rather than 24; you can't be there for clients when it's convenient for you.

Domestic violence strikes at all hours of the day and night to all kinds of people. We need to be there for victims when they need us, not when it suits a budget.

While the state's Conference Committee rejected the governor's original proposal to eliminate all state domestic violence funding - instead choosing to eliminate 20 percent of state funding - committee members were overruled by the governor in the end.

The Santa Clarita Valley Domestic Violence Center adequately prepared for the 20-percent reduction in state funding by immediately reducing staff and furloughing other staff for one unpaid day per week.

The startling news that all state funds have been eliminated has resulted in an emergency Board of Directors meeting whereby we were informed that keeping our doors open at current capacity is most likely not an option past December 2009.

Our outreach center services - such as individual counseling, temporary restraining-order assistance, support group and walk-in crisis management - will be drastically reduced.

We are the only domestic violence agency in the Santa Clarita Valley and serve a 200-square-mile area.

Closing our doors will result in a lack of critical life and safety services for an entire community of more than 250,000 residents. Right now, we are providing 24-hour emergency services.

I think about every client who has come through our doors and their horrific stories of abuse - I cannot help but cry when I think about what the loss of our services will mean to victims.

The impact of our center shutting down would be devastating.

Those who walk through our doors have suffered through broken bones, beatings, strangulation, food deprivation, arson, torture and unspeakable sexual violence.

They have been thrown down flights of stairs, have been victim to violent physical attacks during pregnancy and have even faced the prospect of murder.

Victims seek our services to escape incredible violence aimed at them and their children.

Recently, the Santa Clarita Valley witnessed the murder of one of its citizens and the suicide of her murderer - her husband.
Domestic violence does happen in our community, and these services are desperately needed.

We are calling on our community to rally behind the Domestic Violence Center in our hour of need. Donations of all amounts are needed desperately.

Our Web site is: www.dvcsantaclarita.com.

Nicole Shellcroft is executive director of the Domestic Violence Center of the Santa Clarita Valley. She writes on behalf of the center's board of directors. Her column reflects the center's own view, not necessarily that of The Signal.

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