Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's Happening to Our Essential Social Services?

As funding for social service programs throughout the country dries up, the always increasing and desperate need becomes even greater. In New York City a rape crisis center will close at the end of this month. Rape does not respect age or gender. Generally the focus is first on the perpetrator, sometimes on the prevention and lastly on the child, the adult, the male, the female who is the victim/survivor. In Brooklyn, after June 30th, that last group will have a much more difficult time surviving an event that was never under any circumstances their fault. Even more shocking than the elimination of this program is the apparent lack of public outrage that it has been cut. But then, public outrage over something we don't want to talk about is pretty hard to muster. One solution is to talk about it.

The following letter talks about it. Let it become a model of outrage.

A seven-year-old girl is raped. She is told that is was her fault. She had been told never to talk to strangers. She believes it was her fault. Life goes on. Not happily.

A woman finds out about a rape crisis/domestic violence intervention program in her area. She finds out that rape victims are called survivors. She takes the course to become a volunteer advocate. It is the best educational experience in her much-educated life. She has so many cases in the emergency room. With each survivor she feels she might one day be a survivor too.

I am both the child and the woman.

The Rape Crisis/Victims of Violence Program at Long Island College Hospital was a family of social workers and volunteer advocates that provided counseling during a period of trauma to a most vulnerable population. Who was that population? Anyone. No age, race, gender restrictions. Provided a hand to hold when the only feeling was pain and hopelessness.

I received a letter from the President and CEO of Long Island College Hospital, Ms. Rita Battles that states "…moreover, in allocating finite hospital resources, we must note that the program does not have the means to stand alone, synergize with other income centers, nor to complement its core hospital business. This letter will provide notice that as of June 30, 2008, we find it necessary to terminate services as they relate to and in connection with the New York City Alliance Against rape, the Criminal Justice Coordinators Office and the Kings County District Attorney Office."

The rapes will continue. The assistance to those who survived will not.

Bette Cohen, RN, PhD

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