Rape Crisis Groups At Risk of Losing Extra State Funding
Posted May 30, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
CLINTON — Rape crisis organizations across North Carolina face a tough fight to hold on to their state funding.
Last year, 67 rape crisis organizations in the state split $225,000 -- it was extra money for their programs. This year, that money has been left out of the governor's budget and the groups hope they will not have to cut their services.
In Sampson County, 1,300 people are trained every year by an organization called "U Care." The goal is to help people recognize and support victims of physical and sexual abuse.
"It doesn't start with intervening in a problem. We have to do prevention," says program director Pamela Gonzales.
Prevention education is one of the many things state money pays for. Last year, "U Care" used its share of the money to add a new staff member.
"With that money it enabled us to hire a bilingual person to go to schools, into the community, and to hospitals to deal with non-English speaking victims," says Gonzales.
"The financial needs to address rape in North Carolina are very severe," says Anne Fishburne, director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
The coalition is urging the state to put the $225,000 back into the budget.
"The $225,000 is a drop in the bucket in the overall state budget when you're talking about millions and billions," says Fishburne.
This is a tight budget year and even thoughlawmakersare looking at aHouse billwhich would restore the funding, it is not a done deal.
"It is a popular issue," says Rep. Maggie Jeffus, D-Greensboro. "We've gotten a lot of calls about it, and I think we're going to try our very best to find that money to give them that little bit of help this year."
If the money is not put back in the budget, "U Care" says it will not be able to retain its bilingual counselor.
The coalition says one in five woman in the state has been sexually assaulted. However, there is no reliable number reflecting the number of women who are raped every year.
The problem is a huge gap between the number of women who are attacked and the number who report attacks to police.
According to theNational Center for Victims of Crime: