On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 21,000 calls, approximately 15 calls every minute according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In a single day, 1678 victims were serviced in North Carolina — 860 domestic violence found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing provided by local domestic violence programs. The question is what happened to the other 818 victims that received service, but did not enter a shelter or housing? Or the 582,000 estimated victims of instances that are unreported according to Bureau of Justice Statistics? We learn the fate of many of these women, when they become another statistic — one of the three women killed every day as a result of domestic violence.
The path to escape domestic violence is as unique as the women who are looking for a pathway out. Many believe a quick escape to a shelter is the simplest path. For more women than not, a shelter is not the easiest or best escape. The path to true freedom involves many calculated steps, a safety plan and often involves a strong support network of professionals — counselors, legal representation, movers, bankers, realtors, etc.
Women who find themselves in vulnerable positions due to domestic violence, abuse or other circumstances often cannot begin their path to freedom due to lack of personal resources. The Dropping Keys Fund seeks to provide resources to allow women to engage in the professional services needed to find their freedom from vulnerability.
Domestic violence is an issue as old as human history. As we have become aware of the danger and impact it has on victims and survivors, organizations have been created to respond to two of the greatest needs — prevention and immediate escape. Currently, there is a gap in the services provided in most communities, if a woman is unable to enter a shelter or a formal program. For women who do not enter a shelter, there is little help in attaining the two most needed resources — counseling and legal representation with experts who are specifically trained in issues relating to domestic violence.
Many women are met with financial road blocks as they seek this help. To qualify for reduced or free services, women must show financial need. Often, combined finances with their abuser does not show financial need or they are unable to obtain the documentation needed because their abuser holds all the financial records. There are few places to turn when you do not have access to or documentation of your finances.
Currently, advice to women who need to secure legal representation or safety planning through counseling includes things like stashing small amounts of cash, selling things that will not be missed, or even collecting recyclables to sell for cash. With the cost of a single counseling session starting at $150, consultation with an attorney beginning at $250 and retainer fees averaging around $2500, collecting the funds through these means can take years which continues to put women and often children at great risk.