How Much Taxpayer Money is Enough for Domestic Violence Programs?
Congress currently spends approx. $1 billion (!) annually on domestic violence programs1, and the recent economic stimulus bill just added another $325 million.2
Yet, while the rest of the nation is forced to cut back during these difficult economic times, advocates are asking Congress for even more – over a quarter billion more dollars every year!3 Although this analysis considers only Federal funding, be aware that these programs also receive sizeable private donations as well as state and local funding.
Congressonal spending this year works out to approximately $2,948 per female domestic violence victim. The demand for a funding increase amounts to an additional $623 per female domestic violence victim every year.4 Since domestic violence service providers offer neglibible help to male victims, services for male victims are not included in these calcualtions.5
Every year these programs come back and ask Congress for more and more money, claiming the domestic violence problem is getting progressively worse. So it's only reasonable for those of us whose taxes are funding this to ask:
What are we getting for this investment? RADAR's Special Report "$1 Billion for DV Programs That Misuse Taxpayer Money and Place Victims at Risk"6 provides strong indications that the approaches advocated by federal programs are ineffective or harmful.
Are the advocates playing fast and loose with the facts when they claim the problem is getting worse and worse? A great deal of Federal money is being spent on services for 0.36% of the population7, yet DV advocates often claim that one third of all women have been victims of domestic violence.
The advocates define domestic violence so loosely that it includes everything from the extreme violence that Hollywood regularly portrays to an annoying comment made with the wrong tone of voice. And they've managed to impose policies whose standard of proof is so low that a baseless claim without any proof whatsoever is treated as if it were proven abuse, forcing the spouse out of their home and preventing their children from seeing them except under humiliating circumstances that make the all-too-often-innocent spouse seem guilty in their children's eyes.
Worst of all, these polices unnecessarily break up families, which is ironic since the rate of domestic violence is nearly 10 times lower in intact families.8
Money has a way of seeking its own problems to solve. Please contact your Senators and Congressman. You can find their contact information at http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov. Tell them:
There should be no increase in DV funds until it can be shown that:
the money is not being squandered on ineffective programs, and
there is no adverse impact on innocent American families.
Congress spends money on domestic violence programs under many different bills and programs, including the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), the Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program (DoD-FAP), and Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Total Federal spending is estimated to be $1 billion per year. RADAR, "$1 Billion for DV Programs That Misuse Taxpayer Money and Place Victims at Risk", http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-DV-Programs-Misuse-1-Billion-Tax-Dollars-Per-Year.pdf, pp. 1-2.
For most non-DV-related bills, Congress typically authorizes an amount for a 5 year period. But the authorized amount is not the amount Congress spends. Instead, the authorized amount is an upper limit on the amount Congress can appropriate during its annual budgeting, and Congress hardly ever appropriates the amount authorized. Advocates are calling for Congress to give DV programs special treatment by requiring that Congress must appropriate the full amount authorized. In 2008, Congress appropriated $572 million under VAWA (http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL30871_20080807.pdf, Table 3, p. CRS-55) and another $123 million under FVPSA (http://www.cfw.org/Document.Doc?id=259). But amendments to the 2010 budget resolution would require Congress to appropriate the full amount authorized ($800 million/year for VAWA and $175 million for FVPSA), amounting to an increase of $280 million for just these two bills alone. Congress allocates still more funding for domestic violence programs under VOCA, DoD-FAP, and LSC. (http://www.nnedv.org/policy/takeaction/45-policy-making/257-preserve-vawafvpsa-amendments-in-2010-budget.html)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau the U.S. female population aged 16 and over is projected to be 124,854,200 by 2010. (http://www.census.gov/population/projections/SummaryTabB3.pdf) According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the rate of reported non-fatal intimate partner victimization of women in 2005 (the latest year for which data is available) was 3.6 per 1,000 (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/intimate/table/vomen.htm) Thus the approximate number of females who report they've been victimized each year is roughly 449,475 (124,854,200 * 3.6 / 1,000).
Congressonal spending this year will amount to approximately $2,948 per female domestic violence victim. ($1,325,000,000/449,475) The push to require that Congress appropriate the full amount authorized for DV programs, unlike virtually any other program Congress funds, would amount to an additional $623 per female domestic violence victim. ($280,000,000/449,475).
The vast majority of service providers either deny services to male victims outright (http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/library/Blumhorstbrief.pdf, http://www.ncfmla.org/pdf/overberg.pdf) or provide male victims only the barest minimum of service, in spite of the fact that the Dept. of Justice's National Violence Against Women Survey found that roughly 38% of domestic violence victims every year are men, and numerous other studies have found even higher rates of male victimization ("References Examining Assaults By Women On Their Spouses Or Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography", Martin S. Fiebert, Department of Psychology, California State University, Long Beach, http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm). Since the overwhelming majority of the beneficiaries of Congressional largesse are female, male domestic violence victims are not included in these calculations.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the rate of reported non-fatal intimate partner victimization of married women in 2005 (the latest year for which data is available) was 0.9 per 1,000, just about one-tenth the rate of 8.5 per 1,000 for divorced women. (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/intimate/table/wommar.htm)
Date of RADAR Release: April 20, 2009
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org