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Governor Quinn Must Not Slash Funding For Sexual Abuse Treatment and Prevention

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From Toren Flink, Executive Director of Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee.

This letter was recently sent to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn after ZCenter received notice from the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) of the Governor’s proposed FY11 and FY12 funding cuts (FY12’s reduces rape crisis centers’ state funding nearly to FY94 funding levels). The trend to slash funding for rape crisis services could result in closing of rape crisis centers across the state starting now in FY11.

The Honorable Pat Quinn
Governor, State of Illinois
207 Statehouse
Springfield, Illinois 62706

Dear Governor Quinn:

I am the Executive Director of Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee, IL. The Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center is a community-based rape crisis center serving sexual assault victims 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year. My center provides community education, professional training, counseling and advocacy services to any woman, man or child who has been sexually assaulted. Cuts in FY11 funding will destroy rape crisis services.

In a year where the Illinois Department of Human Services is increasing the allocation to treat Sexually Violent Persons at a cost of $65,000 per year per offender, don’t turn your back on rape victims. Rape crisis services cost the State $235 per victim per year.

In a study completed by the University of Illinois Rockford School of Medicine, the services were shown to be highly effective. Victims, both adults and children, reported how their support, counseling and crisis aid improved their lives after an assault up to 82%. With these cuts, rape victims will suffer.

Please do not be the one to destroy these vital, effective services. If the proposed funding cuts occur, this is what will happen across the state:

• Resources for victims of sexual assault and abuse and their families will be reduced or eliminated.
• Sexual abuse counseling and advocacy offices will close.
• No one will be there to answer calls for someone who was just raped.
• People across the state will lose their jobs, meaning less staff to address the growing waiting lists for counseling
• Current or new programs addressing issues like Bullying in our schools or sexually reactive children will be curtailed or eliminated.
• There will be no Crisis Advocates to respond with nurses and doctors in the emergency rooms.
• Law enforcement and other mental health agencies will no longer have a place to refer victims.
• States attorneys will not have someone to help with the emotional support when victims need to testify; their testimony is critical and the most valuable to a successful prosecution.
• This will be devastating and again, essential 24-hour services in your communities will close.

Last year our Center, which serves Lake and the collar counties, provided services to 25,508 people, equaling 10,274 hours of service. Our services reach out to professionals as well. Our programs have been sliced to the bone the past two years. Your proposed cuts in FY11 will eliminate irreplaceable counseling and advocacy services. Our Center has already felt these cuts with the loss of a Crisis Advocate, a Prevention Specialist in our schools and critical Administrative support.

If you end FY11 funding to rape crisis services, the consequences will be immediate and devastating. Don’t do this to your communities. Don’t do it to victims.

Sincerely,
Toren Flink
Executive Director
Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center

cc: Michelle Saddler, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

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