Report: Costs of domestic violence mounting in Vermont

Vermont News

(WFFF) — According to a recent report, Vermont spends $111 million every year on issues related to domestic violence, which accounts for about half of homicides in the state annually. The report, by the Vermont Network Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, also noted that domestic violence is the number one reason Vermonters call the police for help.

“There’s no decrease in the numbers,” said Karen Tronsgard-Scott, who leads the state’s network against violence. “So we have to figure out some other ways.”

Tronsgard-Scott says between 8,000 and 10,000 Vermonters seek services related to domestic abuse each year. Hotlines take calls from about 20,000 Vermonters annually. While the numbers haven’t changed, the pandemic has made it a lot harder for victims to reach out.

“Being in this close proximity, being locked in with an abusive partner has had some negative impacts on survivors,” Tronsgard-Scott said. “We’re just learning the impact on children.” She says much of the funding will be used for advocacy services as well as transitional housing and emergency shelters. In St Johnsbury, Umbrella served more than 500 survivors of violence last year.

“We saw that the physical violence, strangulation, physical hitting, those kinds of violent acts were increased during the pandemic for clients that came to us,” said Executive Director Amanda Cochrane.

She says Umbrella plans to use funding to form an integrated team to respond to the needs of children impacted by violence. She notes it’s sometimes harder for Vermonters in this corner of the state to access services.

“Is it hard here in the northeast kingdom? Boy, it sure is!” Cochrane said.”It’s more rural, people can’t get help as quickly as they can in more populous areas.”

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