Domestic violence survivor speaks out; explains how IL budget crisis impacts lives

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - As lawmakers get back to work during this special session, many agencies here in the Heartland are desperate for funding.

A client of the Women's Center shares her  story and explains how Illinois' budget crisis could impact lives.

She's not using her real name for safety reasons, but "Janet" is a domestic violence survivor.

"And at that point in time I was completely captive in my home I wasn't allowed to even open the door for the UPS man," explains Janet. "We arranged an escape plan and the first day, this was on a Monday…. Well on that Wednesday I had a friend come over…"

Janet found out that friend volunteered at the Women's Center.

"She said if you want to go now, I can take you.  And she took my whole family. She brought us to the Women's Center. And I had never…it sounds so strange…I had never occurred to me that I could just walk out door …while he was at work…I never once thought of that," cries Janet.

Andrea Stephens, the Women's Center Shelter Coordinator, described what's at risk if there's no state funding funding domestic violence programs.

"Our clients, they have no one else and if we weren't here, they would stay in that environment not because they want to but because no one is providing options for them to get help, and because of that there is a chance that it'll result in death or more violence or somehow it won't end well," Stephens said.

The nearest domestic violence shelters are in Cairo and Belleville, Ill., each more than an hour away. The Women's Center is also the only rape crisis service provider in in Southern Illinois.

Teresa Eubanks, Rape Crisis Services Program Coordinator said these are important services at stake.

"These are services that are vital to your community, to people you know, whether you know it or not, to people you know," Eubanks said.

Senator Dale Fowler's district includes Carbondale. He tells me he's going to Springfield to rally for the these types  of agencies.

"I want to speak on behalf of my school superintendents, I'm going to speak on behalf of our social agencies, our vulnerable populations our citizens that we have that need these valuable services. Because the doors are going to close If we do not balance our budget to keep them open," Senator Fowler explains.

Janet said, "It's not just about the women in the situation, it's the cycle, it's the next generation that's going to learn that this is ok. That's where the damage has even bigger ripples that we can ever imagine."

The Women's Center is really hoping for the senate to take up House Bill 3259 during this special session.

The Womens Center urges you to call your elected officials and tell them to support the survivors by passing House bill 3259.

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