Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent crimes in the USA. Yearly FBI analyses indicate an incidence of 900,000 to 3,000,000 domestic violence crimes being reported to the police (Garcia-Moreno et al. 1686). At the same time, the number of underreported crimes is much larger. Some sources indicate that only 1% of domestic violence crimes ever reach the attention of law enforcement agencies, and popular estimations of domestic violence in the country range from 10 to 20 million incidents per year (Garcia-Moreno et al. 1686). Violence in families and between intimate partners affects both women and men, as it is said that one in three women and one in four men face domestic abuse at least once in their lifetime, either as children, as adults, or both.
The government plays a central role in mitigating the consequences of domestic violence crimes. Government spending is crucial for accommodating the victims of home abuse, providing them with short and long-term protection, and helping repair the physical and psychological damage done to them. However, the recent shifts in budget forming and government spending are putting the victims of domestic violence at risk.
According to President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget analysis, the expenses on victims of domestic violence are to be reduced from 480 million dollars a year to just 30 million within the next decade (Trump). Domestic violence services are crucial in saving lives, and more funding is needed. The current administration’s budget shows massive cuts to programs such as the violent act against women. Women, survivors, activists, and victims are worried about these funding cuts and are advocating for more funding.
Services Offered to Survivors and Victims
Domestic abuse is a crime that requires numerous resources in order to manage, as one of the primary concerns is to keep the victims away from perpetrators. It is very hard to do, as families often live under the same roof and do not have separate places to live. In addition, those housings may not present a safe space, as the abusers often know their whereabouts. Assistance to the victims of domestic abuse is typically provided by law enforcement agencies and various NGOs that are directly or indirectly sponsored by the government. Major services provided to victims of domestic abuse are as follows:
This type of assistance is the psychological first aid to a victim of domestic abuse. Their primary duty is to assess the victim’s situation, help them remain calm, and go over various options with them. Both the police department and various NGOs provide this type of assistance, either by telephone or in-person.
Shelter and safe housing
While sheltering is provided by various NGOs, safe housing is done almost exclusively under the patronage of the police, as only they have the authority and the capability to protect the victims of abuse from potentially violent assault.
Food, clothing, and transportation
This area is undertaken by government-funded welfare organizations and NGOs. The purpose of this program is to provide food and clothing to victims forced out of their homes as well as transportation to places that can provide aid.
These are created mostly under the initiative of NGOs and groups of concerned citizens. They provide moral support by surrounding the victims with kind and caring people.
Victims of domestic abuse require psychological rehabilitation and assistance from experienced psychologists. Government agencies and NGOs provide free counseling.
Accompaniment and advocacy
Victims of domestic abuse are often involved in complex medical, legal, and law enforcement processes. The police and various NGOs often provide counselors to assist with these motions. In addition, many organizations make efforts to improve the position of victims of domestic abuse through political actions and advocacy.
Professional advocates and specialists are required to obtain restraining orders as well as assistance from government agencies.
Children require additional amounts of attention and support from various institutions, as they have a more fragile psyche and are more likely to suffer from domestic abuse.
As it is possible to see, domestic abuse programs encompass a wide array of services ranging from emergency psychological attention to medical, housing, provisional, transportation, and legal services. These require gratuitous amounts of resources and specialists, as the victims of domestic abuse need to be supported in almost every aspect of their livelihoods for prolonged periods of time, which is expensive. The money is primarily spent on paying the specialists for their work, provisions, clothes, housing, security, and awareness campaigns.
Types of Abuse and Victims of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence occurs in families and couples of all kinds, including heterosexual, lesbian, and gay pairs (Goodman et al. 355). It is classified as any kind of abuse in a domestic setting, such as marriage or any other type of relationship. There are four kinds of abuse, classified by their effects and root causes. These types are as follows:
This type of abuse is classified as exerting physical force upon a partner. It is usually manifested in short-term and long-term physical injuries and could even result in death (Straus 18). Women are more often found to be victims of hard physical domestic violence, which includes severe harm to a person’s livelihood. Men are more frequently subjected to lighter versions of domestic violence, as in the majority of cases, men are stronger than women physically, thus more likely to become perpetrators. Physical domestic violence also involves physical deprivation of a person’s freedom, intimidation, and threats of violence, and other forms of abuse.
Often mixed with physical, this type of abuse is associated with forcing another partner to perform acts of sexual gratification against their will. Women and children are more likely to suffer from this kind of abuse, especially in heterosexual couples (Goodman et al. 357). In addition, domestic sexual abuse includes acts of sexual mutilation, marital rape, incest, and reproductive coercion. These forms are widespread in Africa among numerous indigenous tribes, where they are considered cultural norms. The majority of these crimes are underreported, under fear of retribution and public shaming.
This kind of domestic violence is the most difficult to classify and prosecute, as it does not leave any physical marks to be used as evidence and is usually committed within households, meaning that there are rarely any witnesses. This type of abuse often involves threats, intimidation, dehumanization, and depreciation of one’s sense of self-worth, which results in severe psychological problems such as depression (Goodman et al. 357).
In many cases, emotional abuse can lead to long-term psychological disorders or even suicide. Although this type of abuse is primarily aimed towards women, there are significantly more males who have reported crimes of this category than any others. It may be because of prejudice towards male victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in general.
This kind of abuse involves preventing the partner from utilizing economic assets of the family fairly, preventing them from earning money for themselves, and using unfair marital contracts, traditions, and marital assets in order to establish a form of dominance and control (Goodman et al. 356). It is typically associated with other forms of abuse, namely emotional and sexual, as financial power can be used to extract sexual favors and belittle the partner, diminishing their sense of self-worth. This form of abuse is less prevalent in the USA than in less developed societies but is still present. Women and children are the primary victims of this kind of abuse.
Since the cases of singular types of abuse are extremely rare, it is hard to distinguish the age and gender ratios for each type. However, the overall balance is 80% female victims to 20% male victims for repeated cases of domestic abuse, which indicates that women are typically victims, while males are more likely to be perpetrators due to being stronger and maintaining a more economically stable position in the society (Straus 35).
Benefits of Domestic Violence Programs to Victims
The effectiveness of domestic violence programs varies, as in order to receive the majority of the benefits associated with the domestic violence victim status, a person in question must file a case to the police. While NGOs provide counseling and support to anyone who requires help, involving the government agencies usually means opening a domestic violence case. The majority of reported victims receive a sizeable support package, and the delivery of help is much more efficient in that regard.
According to the research performed across all 50 states, the three main beneficial programs for victims of domestic abuse include the federal food stamp program, the housing assistance program, and the Medicaid and Medicare program.
The researchers found that the food stamp program is useful to roughly 82% of all victims on a regular basis. Similar numbers are found for housing needs (82%) and medical relief (75%), which highlights the three primary needs of domestic violence victims (Goodman et al. 360). They need food, shelter, and medical attention. Consequently, these three programs are on the list for budget cuts in the current administration’s budget for 2019. The food stamp program is to be cut by 78%, housing – by 14%, and Medicare to be eliminated or severely cut back as well (Trump).
However, there are many more programs not directly affiliated with domestic violence relief that the victims benefit from. Many victims die as a result of police officers attempting to rescue them and stop the fighting. Officers often lack the proper knowledge and training to recognize the signs and symptoms of domestic violence. Likewise, they do not know how to properly de-escalate a violent conflict situation (Zaher et al. 619). In a country where there are enough guns to arm every man, woman, and child several times, it often results in the deaths of the perpetrators, victims, and police officers involved. Trump’s 2019 budget cuts training programs for police officers even further, instead funneling money into hiring more officers.
Funding Decrease and Its Negative Impact on Domestic Violence Survivors
The effects of decreased funding, especially those in the major welfare sectors such as food stamps, affordable housing, and Medicare, are not hard to predict. The majority of the victims of domestic violence live below the poverty line. Black women are four times as likely to suffer from abuse than white women (Goodman et al. 359). The black community is notoriously poor in the USA as a result of the country’s history of slavery and systematic discrimination. The majority of women, in general, have lower income compared to men as a result of institutionalized sexism and gender role stereotypes, which have been prevalent in the USA for the entirety of the 20th century and persist even now. Thus, the population groups that are the most vulnerable to domestic violence will be cut off from governmental support.
The 78% decrease in the food stamp program means that the majority of victims will not be able to afford the food and provisions to sustain themselves. It makes them more likely to be forced to return to abusive relationships, as males are often better off in terms of financial independence and have effectively debilitated their spouses from being independent as a form of financial abuse. In addition, malnutrition is likely to cause more serious health problems down the line and increase anxiety and depression in victims of domestic violence.
As a result, psychological rehabilitation programs, which are also receiving significant cuts due to the government’s 358 million dollar cut of NGO grants for providing medical assistance (Trump), will have an increased influx of patients with no means of treating their problems. No amount of psychological help will be effective if the patient in question is starving.
The cut to affordable housing is another serious blow to the victims of domestic violence. Although a 14% budget cut to the industry does not seem as drastic as the cuts made to food stamps and Medicare (Trump), it still means that a good portion of victims will remain on the streets. Neither the police nor NGOs would be capable of sheltering and offering protection to everyone if the rates of domestic violence are to remain the same or even increase.
Those without shelter or protection will be forced to return to abusive relationships in order to survive or turn vagabond. Homelessness is associated with numerous physical and psychological disadvantages as well as hazards to life and health. This will mean increased loads on the already underfunded social security organizations, meaning increased criminality, poverty, and reduced quality of service.
The cut to Medicare and Medicaid services will impact not only the victims of domestic violence but all American citizens living under the poverty line. Obamacare, introduced in 2010 and continued in full until the presidential elections in 2016, provided medical coverage for more than 23 million poor American citizens (Garcia-Moreno et al. 390). These provisions covered not only the reported victims of domestic violence but also many underreported individuals, as most of the domestic violence occurs in households stricken with poverty.
The impact of cuts on Medicaid would be massive, as they would affect not only the individuals confirmed as victims of domestic abuse but also those under the radar. More than 10 million victims will suffer. Medical care is one of the primary methods of detecting signs of domestic violence, as the doctors will often be called upon to treat injuries and testify in court. Without medical attention, the victims are going to suffer both physically and psychologically, which would drastically increase morbidity and mortality rates among them.
Cuts to psychological aid will severely worsen the situation for victims of domestic violence, especially children. Children are more vulnerable to the psychological aspects of the crime than adults are and require greater amounts of counseling as well as more time to adjust. Without professional help, they are likely to develop phobias, depression, and self-destructive habits such as smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse, as well as adopt risky lifestyles outside of the household (Hackett et al. 130). Adult victims, on the other hand, would not be able to integrate back into society, which would mean additional social, psychological, and economic issues down the line.
Overall cuts and changes to the government’s VAMA policy are going to affect lawyers working on providing judicial assistance to victims of domestic violence as well (Garcia-Moreno et al. 391). While some lawyers offer their services free of charge, the majority of them require some sort of reimbursement from the organizations that employ their services. Without their help, the majority of victims would not be able to get restraining orders, file for patent rights protection, and successfully presenting their cases in court.
The results of these policies are two-fold. First, the number of reported cases of domestic violence will decrease, but not because the actual number of abuses declined. Instead, the majority of the cases would simply not reach the court, further increasing the number of crimes committed under the radar. Second, the overall quality of legal assistance would deteriorate, meaning that the court of law would see fewer restraining orders and successful cases against domestic violence. Overall, the situation would worsen considerably while appearing good in the official reports.
Lastly, the increased numbers of police officers will not help remedy the situation in any way. The majority of newly-employed officers would be stationed in prisons, which have been severely understaffed for a whole. While these measures may help resolve the problem of violence in prisons, such as the abhorrent numbers of prison rapes, they will not directly affect the quality of law enforcement in regards to domestic crimes. On the contrary, the addition of inexperienced officers lacking sufficient training to deal with sensitive and delicate matters of domestic violence is likely to exacerbate the problem. In short, the amounts of deaths because of the police’s untimely interference is likely to increase.
Conclusions and Recommendations
As it is possible to tell from the analysis of potential consequences for domestic violence victims brought upon by the considerable budget cuts to the welfare sector. As a result, the number of deaths and injuries, as well as long-term psychological and economic aftereffects, will increase dramatically. Nevertheless, this budget will remain a reality for at least the next two years, so long as the current administration maintains its course on cutting the welfare sector. This does not bode well for government agencies, medical organizations, and NGOs dedicated to supporting the victims of domestic violence. Nevertheless, the necessity will force everyone to adapt to the reality of the situation. There are several recommendations to improve the situation.
First, domestic violence programs that rely on federal and state funding would need to seek out other forms of financial sustenance. In these troubled times, where the government effectively turns against the poor and downtrodden, the NGOs must call out to the good people of America, seeking out private and corporate sponsors. The organizations must form a united front and conduct massive awareness campaigns in order to attract support and make up for the lost funding.
Second, domestic violence NGOs must fiercely advocate against the budget cuts on all legal and political levels. The organizations must engage local legislators, senators, counselors, the media, and everyone else with a voice in order to attract the attention of the public to the pressing matters of domestic violence. Through such actions, it would be possible to sway the political climate and gather support for this critical welfare issue.
Lastly, the organizations involved in fighting domestic violence must reorganize and optimize their structure in order to reduce all unnecessary administrative expenses and seek out to improve the quality of care without raising costs. In the realities of financial shortages, it would be required to perform as well as possible and deliver help to those who need it the most. To save money, it could be possible to engage the issue on the community level, getting the local religious groups and political associations involved. Although the quality of help will likely suffer from including individuals not directly associated with domestic violence assistance and rehabilitation, it would help improve the quantity of help and increase public awareness about the issue.
To summarize, domestic violence is a major problem for many communities across the country. Cutting funding will increase the number of victims. Domestic violence programs rely on federal funding and state funding as well as private donors. To continue serving victims and survivors, many of these programs need all funding from different sources.
Garcia-Moreno, Claudia, et al. “Addressing Violence against Women: A Call to Action.” The Lancet, vol. 385, no. 9978, 2015, pp. 1685-1695.
Goodman, Lisa A., et al. “Advancing Domestic Violence Program Evaluation: Development and Validation of the Measure of Victim Empowerment Related to Safety (MOVERS).” Psychology of Violence, vol. 5, no. 4, 2015, pp. 355-366.
Hackett, Shannon, et al. “The Therapeutic Efficacy of Domestic Violence Victim Interventions.” Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, vol. 17, no. 2, 2015, pp. 123-132.
Straus, Murray. Physical Violence in American Families. Routledge, 2017.
Trump, Donald. “Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget.” White House, 2018. Web.
Zaher, Eman, et al. “Effect of Domestic Violence Training: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Canadian Family Physician, vol. 60, no. 7, 2014, pp. 618-624.