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State Funding for Rape Crisis Services
In landmark legislation passed in 2003, the Florida legislature created a rape crisis program trust fund. A $151 fine on certain convicted offenders is designated to this trust fund; however, significant revenue from this fine is not likely to be generated for several years. General revenue is needed to ensure that rape crisis centers are able to provide the basic services that most victims of sexual assault need. Victims of sexual assault can’t wait for offenders to be convicted and pay before they receive basic services.
Why is funding needed now?
Rape is a big problem in Florida.
According to national researchers, approximately one out of every nine adult women in Florida has been the victim of forcible rape, which is over 700,000. This figure does not include teenagers, one of the populations most at risk, or male victims (Ruggiero and Kilpatrick, 2003), and is considered a conservative estimate.
Rape crisis programs are experiencing severe staffing shortages, have insufficient funds to meet the state’s need. Fewer than 10% of sexual violence programs are able with current resources to provide the standard services identified as those most needed by rape victims. As a result, many programs have waiting lists. Florida ranks 47th in the nation in the number of rape crisis programs per capita. Considering that 1 out of every 9 women has been the victim of forcible rape, one program exists for every 18,000 adult, female survivors.
- There are approximately 100 rape crisis advocates in the state of Florida who provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In order to serve every victim of rape in Florida, each advocate would need to reach 7,130 female survivors to provide hotline services, crisis intervention, advocacy, medical intervention and counseling.
- Rape crisis centers rely on Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) federal funding in order to keep their doors open. As a result of caps and changes in the VOCA formula, funding to victim assistance programs has decreased by $30 million over the past three years.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) federal funding has helped make systemic changes in our state’s response to sexual assault. However, only a handful of rape crisis centers receive victim services money through VAWA.
- While several rape crisis centers receive local support from county governments and United Way, those resources are diminishing. Even counties with a historic commitment to rape crisis services are threatening severe budget cuts
Scarce availability of rape crisis services is a hardship on victims.
- Over 50% of programs provide services to more than 1 county.
- Rural counties and outlying areas have very few, if any, services available. Many victims have to drive 2 hours or wait 2 weeks until a rape crisis counselor is available to visit their county.
- Many survivors receive forensic medical services from personnel with no specialized training.
Florida lags behind other states.
- Most states provide general revenue to ensure the continued existence of sexual assault services. Southern states, such as Georgia and Virginia, support rape crisis services as do the majority of large states such as California and New York.
Sexual assault hurts our state’s economy, and the economic impact worsens if victims do not receive the services they need to re-gain their stability.
- Medical expenses, lost productivity, treatment of psychological trauma, pain and suffering are estimated to cost each victim $110,000 (USDOJ).
- 21% of victims miss eleven or more days from work as a result of the crime. The loss of productivity based on each sexual assault is estimated at $1,261 per victim (Bureau of Justice Statistics).
Sexual violence is costly to community well-being.
- Victims of sexual assault who do not receive services are at risk for increased substance abuse, mental health problems including major depression, suicide, and post-traumatic stress disorder (National Center for Victims of Crime, 1999).
- Rape is responsible for 11-20% of teenage pregnancies (Boyer and Fine, 1993).
- Rape survivors’ visits to medical providers increase almost 60% a year after the assault and over 30% in the second year after the assault (Koss, 1993).
Prepared by the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center
Ruggiero, K. J., & Kilpatrick, D. G. (2003)
• Nationally, an average of 13.4% of adult women have been the victim of one or more completed forcible rapes during their lifetime.
• In Florida, approximately 11.1% of adult women (713,000) have been the victim of one or more completed forcible rapes during their lifetime.
• Approximately 220,000 women have developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of rape.
• Women between the ages of 20-44 had the highest levels of risk for having ever been raped.
• This estimate is conservative because it does not include women who have experienced attempted rape, drug/alcohol facilitated rapes, incapacitated rapes or statutory rapes. Men and boys were also not included.
Each victim of sexual assault has suffered terrible trauma.
Let’s make sure, in the state of Florida,
each victim is also offered an opportunity to heal.