Posted on October 01, 2009 at 4:16 pm
Philadelphia, PA – October 1, 2009
Women Against Abuse (WAA), operator of the only emergency shelter in Philadelphia for domestic violence victims, has had to turn away the highest number of individuals in agency history due to its 100-bed facility being at full capacity.
Since the beginning of the recession, WAA has seen a dramatic increase in demand for its services. The Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline answered 9,000 calls in the past year. In the first eight months of 2009, the agency was forced to turn away over 2,500 women and their children. This is more than double the number from the year before, when WAA turned away 1,200 individuals by September.
“It’s heart wrenching to tell these families that we’re full. They’re coming from desperate situations, and need the specialized kind of support that we offer,” said Jeannine Lisitski, Executive Director of WAA.
“When our 100 beds and cribs are full, we have to refer victims to homeless shelters or domestic violence agencies in neighboring counties, also tend to be near full capacity.”
In times of economic difficulty, the frequency and severity of abuse tends to increase. While unemployment and financial difficulties are not direct causes of domestic violence, they create stressful situations that make already abusive situations more dangerous. The depleted economy also means there are fewer options for victims seeking a safe haven; family and friends who would normally house the victim, no longer have the resources.
The sharp increase in demand for services is coming at a time when budget cuts are forcing WAA to lay-off employees. The agency has lost a total of 19 positions over the past year due to declines in funding.
As a result, WAA is calling on the public to ensure its life-saving services continue to be available for victims of domestic violence during such a crucial time of need. This call for action is being made in conjunction with October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
WAA is urging the public to sign onto its iPledge Campaign, a citywide anti-violence movement that calls on ordinary Philadelphians to help end violence at home and in the community. The pledge, as well as resources and ways to get involved, is available at http://www.iPledgeWAA.org
The 2nd annual iPledge Campaign will officially kick-off on Thursday, October 8th, with a press conference at Drexel University, featuring live performances, free refreshments, and keynote speaker Mayor Michael Nutter. The launch will take place at noon at Drexel’s “dragon” at 33rd and Market streets.
About Women Against Abuse
Women Against Abuse (WAA), Inc., one of the largest domestic violence programs in the country, serves more than 10,000 individuals each year through emergency housing, legal services, hotline counseling, education and advocacy. WAA operates the only comprehensive program in Philadelphia whose sole purpose is to assist victims of domestic violence and their children.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Katie Young Wildes