Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Domestic Shelters Feeling Crunch in Wake of Terrorism Funding in Peril, More Seek Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Domestic Shelters Feeling Crunch in Wake of Terrorism Funding in Peril, More Seek Help

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, Times-Union staff writer

An increasing number of Jacksonville-area women are deciding they are tired of being beaten up by their husbands.

Though police say they haven't seen a spike in domestic violence calls, directors at Northeast Florida's shelters for battered women say that since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, an increasing number of women have sought help, saying enough is enough.

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month nears an end, shelters are experiencing their own aftermath from the carnage in New York and Washington. Shelter directors said that contributions have diminished and they have been told their state funding is in jeopardy. Meanwhile, their clients are changing their outlook.

Clay County's shelter, Quigley House, has been filling up, said its executive director, Sharon Youngerman.

"Sept. 11 forced people to re-evaluate their lives," Youngerman said. "They are thinking life may be short. Do I really want to go on living this way?"

But some women have left shelters and told shelter directors that they decided their home life wasn't so terrible after learning what women in Afghanistan endure under Taliban rule.

Beth Hughes, executive director of Betty Griffin House in St. Johns County, said she was encouraged by the responses from some perpetrators of domestic violence. Hughes was the facilitator of support group meetings for about 30 batterers on the night of Sept. 11. She said most of the men were angry and ready to fight back against the terrorists. Hughes said she told them it was too soon and that they didn't have enough facts yet.

"Some of the men said, 'Maybe this is what we are supposed to learn. That we don't immediately lash out.' They were definitely processing it," Hughes said. "It's about response to adversity. Hopefully, they recognized their nature. Hopefully, they were able to see the similarities."

Meanwhile, contributions to shelters have dropped off because many people are giving instead to national relief efforts. For example, directors at Betty Griffin House said they have seen a 70 percent drop in donations from July to September, compared with the same period last year. …

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