December 18, 2012 — Rape crisis centers in Georgia are struggling to stay in business amid increasing case loads and decreasing funds from the government and private donors, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Last year, there were about 22 rape cases per 100,000 individuals in Georgia, slightly less than the national average of about 26.8 rapes per 100,000 individuals. Jennifer Bivins -- president and CEO of the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault, which advocates for 28 rape crisis centers across the state -- said centers need more funding to lower the average.
But Katie Jo Ballard -- executive director of the Governor's Office for Children and Families, which distributes about $33,000 to each rape crisis clinic in the state -- said that her agency is "being asked to make cuts as well."
In addition to dwindling state budgets, some donors are reluctant to donate because of the subject matter, while those who used to give generously are facing their own economic struggles, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Jan Gibbs, executive director of the West Georgia Rape Crisis Center in Carrollton, said, "Even in 2012-2013, there's still a stigma attached to someone stepping out -- female or male -- and saying, 'I'm a victim of sexual violence.'"
Across the state, center directors say they are hard-pressed to keep their facilities staffed and could be forced to stop providing services 24 hours a day. Ann Burdges -- executive director of the Gwinnett Sexual Assault Center & Children's Advocacy Center -- noted that the centers are more cost-effective and efficient than treating victims in hospitals.
"The cost for rape exams in hospitals are four to five times what they are when we do it here," Burdges said, adding that the center also can perform exams in half the time, saving law enforcement officers three to four hours (Davis/ Vejnoska, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/15).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership