Domestic violence advocates say shelters are over capacity - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Domestic violence advocates say shelters are over capacity

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Domestic violence advocates say shelters are over capacity (WFSB) Domestic violence advocates say shelters are over capacity (WFSB)

A surge in demand is leaving domestic violence shelters in Connecticut over capacity, according to the advocacy group The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Domestic violence advocates said that every year about 9,000 victims apply for a restraining order in Connecticut, but that's only one part of escaping from an abusive situation.

Emergency shelters also play a major role. Safe houses in Connecticut are not only full, they're over capacity.

"The challenge is everyone is full all the time, so quite honestly if there is a bed or a bedroom that opens up, within hours it's being occupied by a new family,” said Karen Jarmoc, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The demand for shelter has increased 119 percent in eight years, from 57 percent in the 2008 fiscal year, to 125 percent this year.

A 15-bed safe house in Enfield is always filled with victims.

"We're probably at 95 to 110 percent capacity and when we go down to about 95 percent or 90 percent its only because one of our larger families have left,” said Kathy Barron, CEO of The Network Against Domestic Abuse.

Domestic violence advocates attribute the increase to a few things, from more people coming to the shelter with serious needs, to a lack of affordable housing.

The average length of stay at a domestic violence shelter has increased 77 percent in 8 years, from 26 days in the 2008 fiscal year to 46 days this year.

"They have children. They have families and they're trying to get out of a situation and unfortunately coming to the safe house, they need to be safe,” Barron said.

Safe homes are being forced to become creative as well, from putting multiple families in one bedroom to converting common areas to extra sleeping quarters.

On Tuesday, domestic violence advocates received training on the best ways to keep victims safe, and in January they'll be meeting to tackle the challenges of diminishing resources and an increased need.

"We want them to get help. We want them to know there are resources available 24/7 wherever you live in the state of Connecticut,” Jarmoc said.

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