Fort Bend Women's Center among domestic violence shelters losing funding as needs increase

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Across the country, domestic violence rates are on the rise. Experts are linking the stresses of the pandemic and the economic crisis to more violence at home.

The Houston Area Women's Center tells ABC13 that calls to their crisis hotline were up 65% in September compared to the same month last year.

Just as these organizations see a growing need, their funding is coming up short because of the economic crisis.

Vita Goodell, the CEO of The Fort Bend Women's Center, says they've had to make cuts to their budget.

One of their biggest revenue sources, the Pennywise Thrift Stores, were shut down during the pandemic and have had a hard time attracting customers since reopening.

"It took people a little while to feel okay with coming back out," said Goodell.

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Expansion plans to add 48 units to their long-term housing are also on hold after corporate donors backed out.

"Right now, we're just being told by our usual contributors that we just need a wait a little bit," said Goodell. "They just need to see what happens with COVID."

She says the timing couldn't be worse.

"The biggest reason that males abuse their family is because they are depressed, and the number one reason men get depressed is because they can't provide for their families," said domestic abuse survivor Cheryse Gilmore.

She and her daughter escaped their household after 20 years of physical and emotional abuse.

Gilmore credits several different women's shelters with saving her life when she had nowhere else to turn.

She urges Texans to help keep these organizations operating.

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"Donations to women's centers, and the Fort Bend County Women's Center directly, affects all of the children of those women," Gilmore said.

Gilmore, an artist, donates portions of each painting sold from her Female Empowerment Series to the Fort Bend Women's Center.

To donate to the Fort Bend Women's Center directly, visit FBWC.org.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call their crisis hotline 281-342-HELP.

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