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Budget Cuts Force Closure of Southeast Iowa Domestic Violence Offices

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John Pemble/IPR file
Iowa lawmakers approved a $1.7 million cut to victim services around the time that the federal government cut $4 million from Iowa's victim services funding.

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program is closing offices in Burlington and Keokuk this summer to prepare for cuts to victim services funding. 

The closures come as Iowa programs that help victims of domestic and sexual violence are trying to figure out how to deal with a combined $5.7 million cut in state and federal funding.

DVIP Executive Director Kristie Fortmann-Doser  says a lack of private places for victims to drop in and talk to advocates could impact their immediate safety.

She says it's still unclear what the exact cuts to her program will be, but she's trying to absorb them without cutting staff.

"I think the biggest issue is going to be access," Fortmann-Doser says. "We are strategizing to keep the services that we have, but that means it will take longer for victims to get support." 

For example, she says fewer resources mean it could take longer to help a victim of domestic violence obtain a no-contact order. 

Doser expects to hear how those budget cuts will be distributed in the coming weeks.

"Regardless of what our specific cut is, this is happening to the entire state," Doser says. "And so that means that we're going to have significant losses of resources and support for victims, so everybody is going to be affected across the board."

The Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline and some other victim service programs have already been defunded. 

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter