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Center for Prevention of Abuse set for service cuts after a loss in federal rape crisis center funding

Jody Holtz

The Center for Prevention of Abuse will be one of many rape crisis centers to experience funding cuts after federally approved financial support fails to come through this year.

In 2021, Congress unanimously passed the Victims of Crime Act that approved putting a larger amount of funding into the Crime Victims Fund. The fund provides financial support to the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which allocates the funding to centers across the state.

However, the expected funding has fallen short, leaving many crisis centers to resort to cutting services for survivors of abuse.

CFPA CEO Carol Merna said the funding loss is especially evident in Illinois, where crisis centers that receive Victims of Crime Act funding will experience a nearly 50% loss in revenue.

“You're gonna see agencies, which I call sister agencies that are similar to ours, maybe they don't provide as many services as we do, because we provide more services under one roof than any other agency like ours in the state,” Merna said. “But then they may be much smaller. So, this is really going to make a dent in their budgets.”

Merna also said while the funding loss will not affect the CFPA this year, therapy and other support services will experience significant cuts in 2024.

“I think that one of the most important things is the vast nature of people that this could affect. There are, on a national level, over 6 million victims of sexual violence every year,” Merna said. “There is a act of sexual violence or sexual assault that happens every 68 seconds in this country. Last year, that was every 98 seconds. So, it's not something that's getting better, though we work very hard at prevention education to try to stop abuse before it starts.”

She said the funding loss also comes at a time when clients are seeking help more frequently than last year, noting an all-time high for people seeking help, spending nights in shelters, and receiving night crisis calls.

For more information on the Center for Prevention of Abuse and victims of crime services, visit centerforpreventionofabuse.org

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Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.