Foundation grant supports efforts to secure safety, freedom from domestic violence.
Founded in 1977, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) advocates for the right of all people to live free from domestic abuse and all forms of violence. It does this by providing support to a network of nine Domestic Violence Resource Centers (DVRCs) across the state, while working with state-level partners as they respond to abuse, increase the public’s understanding of the issue, and advocate for policies that hold abusive people to account and keep survivors safe.
The John T. Gorman Foundation recently made a $150,000 grant to the MCEDV to support the coalition’s efforts to help children and families impacted by the trauma of domestic violence.
The grant will support the coalition’s Liberation Fund, which provides direct support to survivors of domestic violence who are in the process of establishing freedom from violence. Foundation funding also provides general operating support that will sustain MCEDV’s statewide advocacy efforts on behalf of survivors and their children.
Without enough money for a security deposit, Meredith was living in a camper after leaving her abuser. Gabby needed diapers, formula, and clothing for her baby after fleeing her home with nothing. Another mother, who had no resources other than those of the abusive partner she had fled, needed school clothes for her two children.
These are just a few of the circumstances faced by domestic violence survivors whom the Liberation Fund has assisted. The fund has allowed them to secure housing, transportation, legal services, and other necessities. The average Liberation Fund amount given per survivor is $459 – a relatively small amount of money that goes a long way toward helping them secure independence and safety for themselves and their children.
“These are pivotal moments and pivotal needs,” said Francine Stark, MCEDV Executive Director. “It’s extraordinary what a difference $500 or $1,000 can make.”
National studies suggest that 99% of domestic violence survivors are also victims of economic abuse, making financial insecurity one of the primary barriers to achieving safety from abuse. Economic abuse leaves survivors and their children choosing between staying with abusive partners or living in poverty and at risk for homelessness.
Distributed throughout the statewide network of DVRCs, the low-barrier assistance of the Liberation Fund offers survivors another choice. Foundation funding will allow the fund to serve more survivors and make it more sustainable.
Advocating for Children
Domestic violence is a nuanced and complicated issue – one reason is that children are often involved.
“Most adult survivors of domestic violence are also parents,” Stark said. “What we know is that children who are in households where there is domestic abuse or violence are impacted in profound ways.”
MCEDV works to ensure these children’s interests are represented on important state-level panels charged with providing recommendations for the safety and well-being of Maine children in the state’s child welfare system. In addition, the coalition works with DVRCs and the state’s Office of Child & Family Services to place a domestic violence advocate in child welfare offices across the state, providing assistance so more children can safely stay with protective parents.
Overall, Stark said the coalition’s goal is to put domestic violence survivor parents in the best position to support their children through a critical time in their lives.
“These children can be resilient to the trauma they have faced,” she said. “The things that contribute to that resilience are having a sense of safety, some predictability in their lives, and a close attachment to a parent who is really invested in nurturing them. So our work is about trying to help that parent be in the best position to create safety.”
“In its work to support the well-being of children and families, the John T. Gorman Foundation supports partners who have been effective at addressing traumatic events in a child’s life, such as violence in the home. MCEDV does just that,” said Lauralee Raymond, Manager, Special Initiatives. “The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence is making an incredible difference with its Liberation Fund and other initiatives to provide well-being and safety for survivors and their children. We are proud to support them.”