Domestic violence center in danger of closing
Durham’s only domestic violence and sexual assault shelter will likely close at the end of this month if the federal shutdown continues, the shelter’s executive director said Tuesday.
The shelter depends heavily on federal money to continue serving victims -- $350,000 this year. But that money has stopped and the shelter has used all its reserve funds, director Aurelia Sands Belle said.
“We are in danger of closing if the federal government doesn’t reopen or we get some community help,” she said. “It’s bad.”
Even before the shutdown, the shelter was forced to turn away people – mostly women – in need. The most recent figures from 2012 show that the center sheltered 237 women and children, and was forced to turn away 98 women due to lack of shelter space.
The center received more than 4,000 calls last year using 15,000 volunteer hours.
“The prolonged shutdown means that victims of domestic violence or sexual assault may not have anywhere to turn for an escape to be safe, such as the 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, legal advocacy and many other services,” Belle said. “This shutdown and the lack of local funding in many cases may inadvertently force victims to stay in unsafe conditions.”
“This hits the most vulnerable,” she said. “We get people who are being injured, and would have no way to help them. We are relegating them to continue being hurt, and that’s very sad.”
Belle hopes the community will help.
“This is an opportunity for the community to step up and see that this program that keeps people alive and hopeful, that works to see that people get justice, doesn’t die because of inaction.”
HOW TO HELP
To donate, visit www.durhamcrisisresponse.org and click on Donate Now. Household items can be dropped off at the center at 206 N. Dillard St. between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Donations are tax-deductible.