Domestic Violence Counts
A 24-hour census of domestic violence shelters
and services across the United States.
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In November 2006, 1,243 out of 2,016 local domestic violence programs
across the United States participated in the National Census of
Domestic Violence Services (NCDVS). Designed to address the safety and
confidentiality needs of victims, the Census collected an unduplicated, non-invasive count of adults and children who received critical services from
local domestic violence programs
"We had two advocates and a community educator travel over 120 miles today to
provide services in an
outreach office on Tribal lands, two advocates working
with five women and their children, and a shelter advocate working with one woman and her child."
- A rural program
in the Northwest
During the survey period, 47,864 adults and children requested and
received services from the 1,243
local domestic violence programs that were able to participate in the
Census. Since this is 62% of local
domestic violence programs in the U.S., it does not represent the total number of victims seeking services
nationwide. Participating programs reported that 5,157 requests for
services from adults and children went unmet due to a lack of sufficient
resources. Also, during the survey period participating programs
answered 16,644 hotline calls from victims and their loved ones, and provided prevention and education sessions to 40,215 members of the community.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) administered the National Census of Domestic Violence Services (NCDVS) in
November 2006. The survey period began on November 2, 2006 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and ended on November 3, 2006 at 7:59 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The survey instrument was designed to collect information about the number of victims being served and the Northwest types of services being provided, without collecting information that could identify any specific victim seeking services at a participating domestic violence program.
Working in collaboration with seven state domestic violence coalitions (nonprofit organizations that coordinate training and support to local
domestic violence programs), an initial pilot test of the NCDVS was
conducted in seven states in May 2006. Several revisions were made to the NCDVS based on feedback from the pilot. The survey instrument was then distributed to local domestic violence advocacy programs in September 2006. NNEDV provided ongoing assistance to both state domestic violence coalitions and local domestic violence programs to
ensure consistent and efficient administration of the NCDVS. After the November 2006 national 24-hour survey period ended, programs
submitted their results through an online web form or via fax.
"Today I helped a woman and her son who lost all of their personal items after the abuser threw out their belongings.
The smile on the little boy's face when I gave him his own toothbrush and toothpaste made me feel good the rest of the day."
- A rural program in the North Central Region
In total, 1,243 out of 2,016 identified
primary purpose local domestic violence
programs participated in the survey,
representing an impressive return rate of 62%. Since some local programs did not participate in the 2006 survey, this Census provides a powerful glimpse but remains an undercount of the actual number of victims who sought and received services from local domestic violence programs nationwide.
On the survey day in November 2006, 47,864 adults and children were served by 1,243 local domestic violence
programs across the United States. During the 24-hour survey period more than 22,277 victims of domestic violence received housing services
from a domestic violence program, either in emergency shelters or transitional housing. An additional 25,587 victims received non-residential services such as support groups, children's counseling, and legal advocacy.
- 14,344 adults and children found refuge in emergency domestic violence shelters.
- 7,933 adults and children were living in transitional housing programs, designed specifically for domestic violence survivors.
- 25,587 adults and children sought non-residential advocacy and services such as individual counseling, legal advocacy, and
children's support groups.
"This was a relatively normal day . nothing out of the ordinary, just the amazing strength demonstrated by battered
women seeking to regain their lives, and the dedication of our
advocates to empower victims to do just that."
- An urban program in the Mid-Atlantic Region
On average, each program participating
in the count served 39 individuals
during the one day survey period, with about 10% of the participating programs serving more than 70 people. While some local programs served many more, on average, each participating local program
also answered 12 hotline calls and trained 32 members of the community.
Programs reported a considerable unmet demand for services due to a lack of resources, including limited staffing and overflowing shelters. During the 24-hour period, 5,157 requests for services were tragically unmet due to a lack of resources. Approximately 60% of these requests were for residential services - either emergency
shelter or transitional housing - and 40% were for non-residential
services. It is important to note that a disproportionate number of unmet requests for service were for transitional housing. Faced with insufficient resources, local programs can sometimes successfully refer domestic violence victims to other agencies. However, too often, victims seeking help are left with no viable alternatives to remaining with an abuser.
"We are an agency covering 5 counties, all are very rural.
We have many obstacles including affordable housing, transportation, day care, and adequate employment resources. Many women are forced to go back to the abusive
relationship because of limited choices."
- A rural program
in the Midwest
During the 24-hour survey period:
- 1,740 requests for emergency shelter went unmet,
- 1,422 requests for transitional housing went unmet, and
- 1,995 requests for non-residential
services went unmet.
Results from the NCDVS show that
most programs operate with relatively
few staff. More than 70% of participating local domestic violence
programs operate with 20 or fewer staff members, and 36% operate with fewer than 10 paid staff members.
Domestic violence hotlines provide critical support and information for victims in danger. When victims of domestic violence and their
family members call 24-hour emergency
hotlines, it is often their first time seeking help and receiving crucial support from a local
domestic violence program. During the survey period, participating programs reported that local and state hotline advocates answered 15,431 calls and the National Domestic
Violence Hotline answered 1,213 calls. In
total, advocates responded to almost 17,000 hotline calls in the 24-hour survey period, which equals more than 11 hotline calls every minute.
"Today I had a client that had a weapon pulled on her when I was talking to her on the phone so she had to hang up. When I called back, all phones had been disconnected."
- A rural program
in the Southeast
WIDE RANGE OF
"Our organization recently partnered
with a major university to provide dating violence education
to college students, which is very exciting!"
- A suburban program
in the Pacific Region
Local domestic violence programs provide a wide range of services
for victims seeking support and advocacy, including, but well
beyond emergency shelter. While the NCDVS was not able to fully capture the wide range of emergency and support services provided to victims, the services that were captured were categorized as group or
individual (one-on-one) advocacy provided to residential victims (e.g. shelter and transitional housing) or nonresidential victims living in the
community (e.g. children's support groups, counseling, legal advocacy). The distribution of these services is shown in FIGURE 1.
- Individual services such as counseling, accompaniment to police or medical appointments, and safety planning are an important part of the support that local domestic violence programs provide. Individual services accounted for 60% of all services provided to victims accessing shelter, transitional housing, and non-residential advocacy services.
- Group services such as support groups for children and adults and job-training sessions accounted for 19% of all direct services provided
by programs to both residential and non-residential clients.
- Hotline calls accounted for the remaining 21% of services provided.
These 24-hour crisis support lines offer important and often
life-saving information to callers and allow victims of domestic
violence to access services around the clock.
PREVENTION AND COMMUNITY EDUCATION
"We work exclusively with youth around the issues of domestic and dating violence. We offer young people, ages 12 to 24,
preventive education, legal information, counsel and advocacy, and peer leadership
- An urban program in the Pacific Region
In addition to providing direct services
to victims, local domestic violence programs
also implement prevention and early intervention curricula at schools, and awareness trainings in the workplace and broader community. Local programs
provide trainings on domestic violence
issues to professionals such as law
enforcement and health care providers. Through these sessions, local programs aim to increase knowledge about the
dynamics of domestic violence, inform law enforcement and other professionals about best practices for working
with victims, and provide information to concerned family and friends.
These services play an important role in preventing domestic violence,
improving the system's response to the violence, and helping stop violence
before it starts. During the survey period, a total of 40,120 individuals
participated in prevention and education sessions provided by these
1,243 local domestic violence programs.
The National Census of Domestic Violence Services (NCDVS) revealed that approximately 50,000 adults and children in the United States
received services and support from 1,243 local domestic violence programs
during a 24-hour period in November 2006.
"We opened a short-term transitional housing program a few months ago to provide a longer housing program for women searching for safe, permanent housing. On the survey day, our first resident, who had only been there for 6 months, moved out to her new home. She is representative of the women we serve -- she works two jobs to support herself and her daughter. Upon her exit from the program, she asked if there was anything she could do for us to help other women like her, or to help the local program who had provided her with such support."
- An urban program in New England
While a great number of domestic violence victims access and receive services, a substantial unmet demand for services remains. In one 24-hour period, a total of 5,157 requests by victims for services went unmet due to inadequate funding and resources for local domestic violence programs. This unmet demand highlights the need for additional funding and
support. Given the dangerous and
potentially lethal nature of many
domestic violence victims' circumstances,
insufficient funding of
domestic violence programs and
services should be acknowledged as a serious problem and barrier to those seeking help and safety.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) hopes to be able to administer the NCDVS
annually. Ongoing research will provide year-to-year comparisons
of the number of adults and children seeking and receiving services, changes in service provision, and changes in the resources and funding available for local domestic violence programs.
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