The Rape Crisis Center helped more than one thousand woman last year with a staff of just three people. Although the number of sexual assaults has not increased in Cumberland County, the demand for services has.
"There's a lot of work to be done and with work comes expense and consequently we are not able to meet the demand for the workload out there," says Aurelia Sands Belle.
Belle is the director of Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County; the center is having financial problems, along with other rape crisis centers statewide. Federal grants are drying up.
Cumberland's Center just got word they are losing two major grants worth $75,000. The loss is critical to a center that's operating budget is made up of 80 percent grants.
One of the lost grants provided rape victims professional counseling. Fayetteville Police Victim Advocate Norma Hall knows how valuable the counseling is. "The victims are going to suffer if they don't have this funding," Hall says.
Hall refers most sexual assault victims to the Rape Crisis Center.
"Counseling is vital to a victim's healing process," she says, "and without counseling many times they don't get that healing."
The loss of funds will not force the center to close its doors, but the executive director is concerned about this trend.
"We're going to continue to work but perhaps it wont be at our most effective level," Belle says.
The Center is already trying to raise money through fundraisers, including a 5K Run for Justice on June 5. For more information on the center, and how you can help, call (910) 485-7273.