Domestic abuse prevention advocates prepare for the worst with budget cuts

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 10:42pm

Every year the domestic abuse center Judy Benitez runs loses more and more money. The IRIS Center helps battered women escape their abusers, but this year she worries the cuts could be too deep.

"I don't know too many businesses that can withstand that kind of cuts without cutting back on what they're doing. I mean we really don't have any fat left to cut, at this point it's cutting into muscle and bone and services are going to be impacted," said Benitez.

Services domestic abuse survivor, Theolonious Gage said women can not do without.

"Oh lord I hate to think about it, because there's so much that they have to offer that a lot of people are not even aware of. The main thing is putting it out there so women know they have options," said Gage.

Because those services are what saved Gage, but it didn't save her daughter, six years ago she was shot and killed by her abusive boyfriend.

"I am like 'what do you mean there's nothing a paramedic can do?' He's like, 'she's gone.'  'What do you mean she's gone?' It just didn't set in. So when I said 'she's gone' then my daughter started screaming, 'no mom, not my sister. Not my sister.' And I just fell to the floor on my knees," said Gage.

It's too late for her daughter, but gage said it's not too late, for other women. 

"Just the idea of that they need help and may possibly get turned away, that is very frightening because you really put them in a danger zone," said Gage.

Abuse prevention advocates have one last hope to get their funding back, if lawmakers go into a veto session. It's something they're praying will happen to save their funding.

"It is really important, not just here in baton rouge, but all over the state for that line item to be restored by the legislature. And I think that we'll be able to remain open if we have a funding cut, but there's really no other way to handle it than to have it impact our capacity," explained Benitez.

"if the silence continues and we don't have funding to educate the community and educate women and children then the cycle will continue and the rates of domestic violence will continue to increase, even more than they already have," added Lanier Cutno.

Domestic Violence prevention programs across the state were cut over $1 million from the budget.

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