Government Shutdown Threatens Florida’s Domestic Violence Centers

On December 22, 2018, President Trump ordered the longest government shutdown in American history after Congress refused to fund his $5.7 billion border wall. The president held his ground for 32 days despite facing intense political resistance, global ridiculous, and a 34% public approval rating. During this time, over 800,000 federal employees were furloughed or forced to work without pay, thousands of immigrants feared deportation after their cases were put on hold, and domestic violence shelters across the nation watched their resources dwindle due to the lack of federal funding.

Unfortunately, the deal established by Congressional Republicans and Democrats is only keeping the government open for three weeks. If President Trump isn’t satisfied by negotiations regarding his costly and controversial border wall, he may be willing to shut down the government again.

The Impact on Survivors

You can turn on any news channel to hear updates about the people and agencies affected by the government shutdown. However, very few media outlets are discussing the impact this shutdown had on domestic abuse survivors.

The Justice Department is one of the nine departments that were closed during the initial government shutdown. This department is responsible for funding the state agencies and nonprofit organizations that primarily aid survivors of crime. For example, they provide food, shelter, and supplies to victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, and more. These organizations are instrumental in protecting survivors and permanently separating them from their abusers.

However, when there is a government shutdown, these protections and necessities go away, and victims may find themselves in the care of their abusers once again. Steve Derene, executive director of the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, explained to POLITICO writer Benjamin Wermund that “We’re talking thousands of programs across the country. Some programs will prioritize the more critical services, some may have to lay off staff.”

According to Benjamin Wermund, at least eight counseling and crisis intervention groups in Florida have been forced to cut staff. By early February, these organizations will be forced to cut services as well. If Congress and the president can’t come to an agreement before the deadline, domestic abuse survivors may need to examine other legal protections.

Protect Yourself by Securing a Protective Order

If you require legal protection against an abusive romantic partner or family member, contact the New Port Richey domestic violence attorney at Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office today. Our lead attorney can evaluate your case and help you file an effective petition that gains you essential protection within 24 hours.  It’s important to realize that domestic violence isn’t limited to acts of physical assault. Domestic violence also includes harassment, threats, and destruction of your personal property. If you feel like you’re endangered, it’s imperative that you take legal action by contacting our law office as soon as possible.

Contact Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office at (727) 312-1112 to schedule a consultation.


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