East Tenn. domestic violence services maintain during shutdown, but concerns grow

Local News

It’s been up and down for non-profits, specifically domestic violence shelters and services, during the shutdown. While the government is temporarily open, the threat of another closure is lingering causing concerns to grow.

Related: East Tenn. domestic violence shelters, services struggle amid government shutdown

This month is much better for CEASE Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Inc., compared to last month.

“I was really afraid,” said Nancy Seal, the court supervisor for CEASE.

CEASE did not have to layoff 17 staffers, who make up their outreach team, and services didn’t have to be cut during the shutdown.

“They become so afraid to even reach out and then when they do get that courage to reach out then no one’s there? It’s a very scary thing,” said Seal.

The organization was able to maintain services because the Department of Justice stayed open through March 1.

“But that just gave us a window, another 30 days,” said Executive Director Donna Kelly.

CEASE is roughly 83 percent federally funded. Those federal dollars come through the Violence Against Women Act which is money paid in court fees or fines by abusers.

“It’s $100,000 a month we have to replace if it doesn’t come in,” said Kelly.

During this worrisome time, CEASE has partnered with area agencies to help with funding so they can continue their mission.

“We held a volunteer training this last Saturday for all the people who came out during this time who said ‘What can we do to help?’ So that if worse comes to worst, we have volunteers who can continue the work,” added Kelly.

Staffers are also working on building financial reserves just in case.

“We don’t know if this is going to happen all over again,” said Seal.

“All the shelters are full and people are scared,” added Kelly.

While the shutdown has delayed some families and survivors from moving into a more permanent housing option, staffers say it’s been a relief not having to scale back on their work and they hope a conclusion comes soon.

“We are looking at months now that we can, that we can sustain instead of immediate need to tighten,” said Kelly.

“It’s very fearful not knowing. That’s just like battered women. They fear the unknown and so we’re in the same boat. We fear the unknown but hopefully things will be on an upswing,” said Seal.

How You Can Help: 

With so few options during the shutdown, domestic violence organizations are asking for help from the community.

It can be as simple as making a financial donation, as well as cleaning supplies, food and toiletries that can be used at their emergency shelters.

If you would like to donate to the Avalon Center, click here. The Family Justice Center, click here. Or you can help CEASE by clicking here.

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