Domestic Violence Uptick, Available Shelters Dwindle

May 17th, 2012 by admin

When a woman is in an abusive situation, she can always check into a shelter with her children, right? That is the ideal situation. Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, there aren’t many shelters with room for domestic violence victims, and they have to turn people away.

According to a report from the Valley News Dispatch, numerous shelters are having to hang up their “no vacancy” signs, turning people away who are in true need of shelter and protection. These shelters offer more than a place for victims to lay their head; they offer a new start, not to mention secure facilities with cameras and locks.

Most such shelters in the state have waiting lists. The Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh and the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center in Tarentum are just a few. They rank third and fourth on a list of shelters that have had to turn people away.

Rita Smith of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Denver, CO. says the problem isn’t just unique to Pennsylvania. “I’ve been doing this work since 1981, and I absolutely believe that this is the most difficult time we’ve had in the field to provide emergency shelter for victims.”

While crime in general is down across the country, tough financial times, unemployment and similar circumstances could lead to greater incidents of domestic violence. This is paired with the fact that organizations are receiving less funding due to the economic impact on governments. Together these factors create the perfect storm for a domestic violence shelter crisis.

When a family is ripped apart by domestic violence, it’s usually the mother and children who are forced to look elsewhere for housing. Asking the abuser to leave and relinquish the home doesn’t exactly make for a nonconfrontational exit.

These families are then left trying to find appropriate housing, employment, and adjusting the children to the major changes. In larger cities there are resources to assist with this transition, but in smaller locales such resources often don’t exist.

Domestic violence cases often get more and more violent until the law steps in. Sometimes even after the law is involved. But when an arrest takes place in a domestic violence case, it often starts a chain of events that can lead to jail, rehabilitation, child custody issues, divorce, and more.

If you are accused of a domestic assault, terroristic threats, or other similar charge, you need someone in your corner. While it likely seems like everyone is against you, a criminal defense lawyer can be your key advocate during this difficult time.