Domestic Violence Programs Struggling To Help Those In Need

Domestic violence programs in Illinois have been waiting months for state funding. (WRSP)

Domestic violence programs in Illinois have been waiting months for state funding.

Organizations recently found out that the roughly $9 million in state aid was left out of the stop gap budget, which passed in July.

Domestic abuse shelters and program leaders from around the state met in Springfield Thursday.

They were having tough conversations on how to save money while they wait longer for funds.

“You learn to be dependent pretty quickly,” Jennifer Gabrenya said.

Gabrenya is a survivor of domestic abuse, and a victim of its destructive force.

“I am not one of the people who has one of those happy families that was able to stay intact,” Gabrenya said.

She went on to say survivors and victims are going to need to look harder to find help in Illinois.

“They've already provided the services for 8 months; now they have to be paid for all of that. They've been carrying that on their backs,” Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence Executive Director Vickie Smith said.

Smith advocates for domestic abuse shelters. She says the state made the mistake of not putting the correct appropriations for the 62 state programs.

Smith tells us they're now behind $18 million.

“They had to submit budget for those signed contracts and many of them had to make sure the budgets were accurate and they had to amend them,” Smith said.

With no state money coming in, these sanctuaries are facing cuts.

Angela Bertoni works for the Sojourn Shelter and oversees orders of protection and the 32 bed facility in Springfield.

Bertoni says she doesn't know what else she can eliminate.

“I mean, how do you cut either of those services without putting those peoples’ lives in danger,” Bertoni said.

Jennifer knows what it's like already to not have these resources. Her earliest memories of abuse started when she was 9-years-old.

“A lot of anger towards my father Gabrenya said. “When my parents got divorced I think I was the happiest person.”

This survivor wanted to make sure no child ever felt the pain she felt. That is why she became a director of her own shelter in suburban Chicago.

“I think it's invaluable for children to know what's happening in their families is not their fault and there are places for them to go and get help… I am afraid of the day when we know for sure that someone has died because they couldn't reach out to a program to get the help that could have saved them,” Gabrenya said.

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