CAASA needs ribbons tied around funding shortfall
By Amy H. Peterson
CAASA, the organization that serves sexual abuse and assault survivors in 19 northwest Iowa counties with 24/7 services, needs the public’s help.
Congress cut federal funding to sexual assault programs by 26 percent for the new budget, which began Saturday. This comes on the heels of cuts by the Iowa Legislature, which cut about $1.4 million in grant-funded victim services programs distributed through the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. Iowa’s cuts came with the assurance that with recent increased federal spending through the Violence Against Women Act and other appropriations, services for victims of sexual assault would not be cut.
Among these services is the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline, which is operated out of the University of Iowa-based Rape Victim Advocacy Program, and is available statewide.
In the past two years, the hotline has seen a 647 percent call volume increase, and was projected to receive 4,000 calls in the coming fiscal year, had it not been defunded.
Hotline officials said cutting the hotline “will set victim services back in profound ways.”
In a social media post, CAASA said, “We are looking for help to reduce [the funding shortfall] so we can continue to provide all of our services to victims of Sexual Assault. Below is a fundraiser that we are putting on. There are 540 sexual assault ribbons in the picture below. Each ribbon is worth $25. You may go in as a group or an individual to reach $25. With each $25 we receive, we will color in a ribbon and our goal is to have this all colored in. You may donate by writing a check (mark it Ribbon Fundraiser) and sending it to our office or giving it to your local advocate or you can go through our website by clicking on Make a Donation.”
This federal cut is a blow, according to advocate Misty Wolff of CAASA in Estherville.
Lindsay Pingel, director of community engagement for the Iowa Coalition of Domestic Violence that supports Iowa’s domestic violence victim support programs, said these reductions are “going to change the entire landscape of how our programs do services.”
“It will take advocates and first responders out of communities that law enforcement depend on when they are called to the scene of a domestic incident,” Pingel said. “It will remove people from the chat lines and the sexual assault hotline. Those are resources that individuals need.”