Cumberland County domestic violence program saved by a few lines in the state budget

Cumberland County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The ceiling at the Rape Crisis Center of Cumberland County is caving in on itself. Paint and the walls can be seen cracking.

“It’s an almost 200-year-old building and it’s falling apart,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director of the center.

Those physical issues are the least of the concerns. This year, the center lost all of its federal funding for domestic violence programs. Overall, the programs throughout the state saw a 35-percent drop in funding in the last year and almost an 80-percent decline since 2018.

“Our agency along with many throughout the state, and throughout the country, lost a significant amount of funding and that was pretty heartbreaking,” Gerdes said.

It meant her center and others are relying more on community donations and fundraisers.

“That money is quickly running out,” Gerdes said.

So Gerdes reached out to local lawmakers and explained the dire situation. She credited Sen. Kirk deViere and Rep. Billy Richardson for their work in advocating for victims’ services.

They were able to get a total of $300,000 into the state budget specifically for the center.

  • $125,000 for our domestic violence program
  • $125,000 for a pilot program for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
  • $50,000 for facility upgrades

“When it comes to domestic violence, I saw that at a very young age and experienced it. So, it’s always been a place I believe we have to pour back into,” deViere said.

Without the funding, Gerdes said, “We would not have a domestic violence program. We would not be able to sustain it.”

And some survivors would have nowhere to turn. “I don’t know what would happen,” she admitted.

The new dollars mean they will always have a place to go no matter how long it takes federal funding to return.

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