Government Shutdown 2013: Domestic abuse victims affected during awareness month

    October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, but local services that help victims of domestic abuse aren't being spared from the government shutdown.

    DC SAFE is one group that's working on a plan to keep operating if money runs out.

    "We housed 19 adults and 20 children over the weekend," said Executive Director Natalia Otero.

    In a moment of crisis, victims of domestic violence can turn to the non-profit for help.

    "We consider ourselves to be the widest entry point for the continuum of services," said Otero.

    The group connects clients to transportation, food and even legal help.But with lawmakers still battling over the budget, DC SAFE is now facing its own challenges, and resources to clients are in jeopardy.

    "All of the funding that comes through the Office of Victim Services for all of the victim's service agencies at this point, is being held up, and there is no money coming in," said Otero.

    About 20 percent of the group's funding comes from private donations, which can arrive at any time, while local and federal grants cover the rest.

    But the uncertainty over continuing their operations is weighing heavy on Otero. She said, "One of the things we're trying to figure out is how we're going to make it for the first 15 days."

    So far they've been able to manage with no interruptions to service, including their resource line, available 24/7 since 2006. But there are signs that changes are being made with partnering organizations.

    Court advocate Elizabeth Johnson said, "Knowing that they're coming in but they're not receiving any compensation right now to be coming in, is kind of putting everyone on edge just a little bit."

    DC SAFE is trying to figure out a way to get an exemption to make sure the funding continues to flow. If the shutdown stretches for weeks, they may be relying more on the community for help.

    Contributions are starting to come through.

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