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(WOMENSENEWS)--On a single day last September, 9,641 victims of domestic violence tried and failed to find help, shows a March 6 study by the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Sixty percent of their unmet requests were for emergency housing.
"The largest unmet need was for shelter. One of the first steps for survivors escaping violence is finding a safe place to go," the study said. "However, in most places, the demand for emergency shelter is outpacing the availability."
Lack of government and private funding along with a reduced number of staff were reasons that victims were turned away. Authors--citing domestic violence programs that participated in the 24-hour survey on Sept. 17, 2013--say victims who couldn't find safe refuge most likely returned to their abusers.
Surveyors found two women were killed by their abusers on that day. In Arizona a woman was stabbed and raped by her abusive partner in front of his friends.
They also found that over 66,581 victims of domestic violence--women and children--were served on that day. More than half of victims (36,348) needed and found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing.
The survey was designed to monitor the incidence of domestic violence and the extent to which victims were able to receive help and find safe refuge at a shelter.
"Survivors who are trying to escape from abuse and begin new lives have many basic needs: shelter, food, money, transportation, child care, legal assistance and more. One of the most immediate needs is a safe place to stay," said the report.
Out of 1,905 domestic violence programs and shelters identified nationwide, 1,649 programs, or 87 percent, participated in the survey.
One of those who found shelter is named Melissa in the report. She was pregnant with her first son when her abuser hit her for the first time and threw her to the ground. During the following eight years, Melissa endured the same ordeal until she decided to leave with her sons and search for safety at a local domestic violence shelter, which she found.
Hajer Naili is a New York-based reporter for Women's eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa and specializes in Middle East and North Africa women in Islam.
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