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Urbana's Courage Connection losing ability to shelter, counsel domestic violence victims: Bennett

dvpanel 040417 2SPRINGFIELD – For many abused women, domestic violence shelters are the last refuge from which they can begin to rebuild their lives. These very shelters, however, are now on the verge of closing due to the state’s historic budget impasse.

One such shelter is the Urbana-based provider Courage Connection. The facility is the only domestic violence shelter in Champaign-Urbana. In December, the provider learned that the $600 million in the state’s stopgap budget did not include its funding.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate heard testimony from the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault to discuss how the budget impasse was putting the safety and well-being of abuse victims in danger.

“Approximately 40,000 fewer Illinois students received prevention education programs last year,” said Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “Rape victims are hurt by the impasse as waiting lists for crucial counseling and advocacy services expand.” 

State Senator Scott Bennett, a Democrat who represents the Champaign-Urbana area in the Senate, says the lack of funding for domestic violence programs is unconscionable.

“We cannot hope to prevent domestic abuse if we do not adequately fund the facilities and services that actively work with victims,” Bennett said. “While we sit in Springfield debating our business climate, very real people are suffering beyond belief.”

Bennett is no stranger to working with abuse victims. A former Champaign County Assistant State’s Attorney, Bennett has drawn on his experiences as a prosecutor to pass legislation out of the Senate that would help the victims of sexual assault.

PHOTO: Domestic violence victim, program directors testify about dangers confronting facilities, services and victims