The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced on Oct. 27 that the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) awarded the state nearly $2 million in annual funding. The money will go toward helping victims, preventing domestic violence and informing communities about how to respond to it.
The Culturally Specific Services Program will receive $400,000 of the awarded grant. Run by the OVW, the program supports community-based organizations that address the critical needs of sexual assault and domestic violence in historically vulnerable populations, including Native American communities and tribal lands.
Almost 19% of Black women, 24% of multiracial women and 34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped during their lifetimes, according to the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Domestic abuser rates also are higher than average for people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ people.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing domestic violence,” said Rosie Hidalgo, OVW director. “These funds will enable communities to increase capacity and strengthen a coordinated community approach to prevent and address violence in more comprehensive ways tailored to their communities.”
‘Ask for help’Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell highlighted how her office works to prosecute domestic violence and what people should do if they or someone they know are being abused during a press conference on Oct. 18.
“The fastest way for us to help you is for you to ask for help,” Mitchell said. “Police and the county attorney’s office will do everything in our power to hold your abuser accountable.”
According to Mitchell’s office, the number of domestic violence cases submitted to the office by law enforcement agencies in the county through September was nearly 3,000, which is on pace to meet last year’s figure of more than 4,000 cases. Of those 3,000, more than 100 involved an abuser who illegally possessed a firearm.
One domestic violence survivor who spoke at Mitchell’s press conference underscored the mental and emotional difficulties she faced in getting and accepting help.
“I remember feeling so alone consistently,” she said. “It's not always about just getting help. Sometimes it's harder just to accept it, even when it's available and offered. I remember thinking that I didn't deserve help, thinking that it was my fault that I was in this situation, thinking that it had to be me and me alone to fix this.”
The woman thanked various offices and groups, including the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, for support and financial assistance.
Cindy Garcia, a program director for Chicanos Por La Causa De Colores shelter, also spoke at the press conference. She said her organization is available to help victims of domestic violence by providing housing, legal services, case management and a bilingual hotline.
"We look forward to all of the partnerships that we will gain through the community to make sure that harm doers are held accountable,” Garcia said, adding that at her shelter, survivors are “provided a safe space and a healing space where they're able to thrive."
The county attorney’s website shares resources for victims, including two emergency hotlines and a list of shelters in the Valley. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).