Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-Md.) took a tour of the Domestic Abuse Center on Tuesday, hoping to shine some light on its budget needs.
The Prince George's Hospital Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center is about to mark its first year serving victims of domestic abuse. While the Center has done tremendous work helping people in the community, budget concerns in Maryland make its continued operation less than certain.
"We’ve had little boys, little girls, teenagers, young men, young women, older folks who’ve been sexually violated," says Cheryl Banks, who works in the Center. Banks says the facility began officially working with victims of domestic abuse only last year, she argues that they have been dealing with the issue for much longer, since both domestic and sexual abuse are often intertwined.
“We’ve done forensic exams for women who have been beaten and raped by their husbands, their boyfriends, for example, their estranged boyfriends," says Banks.
Karalyn Mulligan works directly with domestic abuse victims, and she says the center counsels them and even assesses their chances of further abuse by asking a series of questions: "Has he ever threatened to kill you before? Do you think he may kill you? Is he unemployed? There’s not a numbered score. You either score high at a high risk of being killed or you don’t”.
The Center expects that the number of victims it serves is on the increase -- they served 300 victims last year. It's hoped more funding will be forthcoming. Congresswoman Donna Edwards toured the facility earlier this week and says if society doesn’t pay for centers like this, there are indirect costs "for medical treatment, for lost days at work, for all of the wide ranging economic and social impacts that sexual assault and domestic violence have on our communities."
A victim who asked not be identified agrees: "We need to do something about this problem or it's going to tear apart the fabric of our community."