America’s pandemic response – including social distancing guidelines and the need to transition to virtual interactions – has left those who work with sexual violence survivors scrambling to meet the evolving needs of their communities.
In earlier blog posts, we featured some of the people behind this critical work, and you can read some of their stories here and here. Their efforts to adjust to the new reality should be applauded. But there’s a problem: The pandemic has left them in desperate need of more resources to effectively make this transition.
RALIANCE Policy Director Terri Poore recently contributed an opinion piece in Morning Consult that calls for the next congressional COVID-19 relief package to address the pressing needs of sexual violence survivors, which previous pandemic legislation has ignored.
Here are three key takeaways from Terri’s article:
1. Demand for survivor support has increased during the pandemic: “According to a recent National Alliance to End Sexual Violence survey of the nation’s local sexual assault programs, 40 percent have seen an increased demand for services during the pandemic and an overwhelming majority – 89 percent – need additional funding in order to provide survivors support and emergency assistance.”
2. Funding for sexual assault programs has taken a hit: “Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, traditionally an opportunity to raise money and awareness about sexual assault, misconduct, and abuse, took a different form this year, as many centers had to cancel their signature annual fundraisers. Many programs are facing significant decreases in donations from individuals and foundations, making it challenging to continue to operate and meet the needs of the community.”
3. Congressional support must address racial disparities: “The impact of the pandemic on communities of color and tribal communities has been especially devastating, yet culturally specific programs have not received the funding they need to provide access to life-saving services.”
To meet these challenges, Terri calls on Congress to allocate necessary funding to the Sexual Assault Services Program and Crime Victims Fund at the Department of Justice, as well as the Family Violence Prevention and Services Office. Survivors need support, now and always, and Congress cannot miss another opportunity to dedicate much-needed resources to these important organizations.