Everyone from toddlers who can’t attend Head Start to veterans worried about their benefits coming through have been negatively affected by the government shutdown. Another group of people who have fallen victim to the Republicans’ idiotic hostage tactics are women suffering due to abusive relationships. The Office on Violence Against Women, which is in charge of distributing federal funds to domestic violence shelters and crisis centers, will not do so during the shutdown. Slate explains what this means to women all over the nation seeking support and a refuge away from those who harm them:
The OVW was created in 1995, as a result of the Violence Against Women Act, which allocated federal cash to programs that help combat domestic violence. Its support helps maintain the nationwide network of domestic violence and rape crisis and advocacy centers. The bureau distributes these grants to domestic violence and rape crisis and advocacy centers nationwide. It also supports programs that encourage the enforcement of protection orders and the arrest of violators, address domestic violence on tribal lands, train law enforcement officials on how to respond to these sorts of situations, and address violence against women in other ways.
But the shutdown means that OVW grantees are no longer able to request payment or draw down funds. While some programs have diversified their funding streams, many smaller ones are almost entirely reliant on federal cash. Absent that cash, these programs will be forced to reduce services and lay people off. Some might close down entirely….
As Bryce Covert reported at ThinkProgress, due to the sluggish economy, “eight in 10 shelters report an increase in women seeking help and nearly 60 percent say the abuse is more violent than before the crisis. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters of women are staying longer with their abuser for economic reasons.” Domestic violence isn’t going to go away just because the federal government does.
But as the casualties of the shutdown rack up, the tea party continues to make sure Congress remains useless. Meanwhile, countless women are being abandoned by their government at a time when they are most in need.