Kuster meets with domestic violence victims on shutdown's impacts

CLAREMONT, N.H. (WCAX) Victims of sexual assault are beginning to feel the effects of the ongoing government shutdown.

It's a roundtable discussion tackling a difficult topic.

"During the assault I felt like I was going to die," said Julie Herbert, one of several survivors willing to share their story of sexual assault with Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-New Hampshire, at a meeting in Claremont Friday.

"These are real issues in our community that are not going away, and without services we can't help survivors," Herbert said.

But what could be going away, according to advocates at the Turning Points Network, is key federal funding. Officials say just over 50 percent of the group's overall budget is made up of federal funds.

"The one in particular that concerns us right now is our transitional housing program. It is the program that we are able to use to help survivors get right into permanent housing," said Turning Points' Debra Mozden.

There are also 12 shelters throughout the state that give sexual assault victims a place to stay. The Claremont shelter is already funded through the end of June. But with the government shutdown ongoing and no end in sight, women staying at the shelter are already worrying about possibly being forced to find a new home.

"Genuine anxiety about what is going to happen in their lives," said Rep. Kuster. She has shared her own sexual assault story in the past and says it's an issue that affects people in all walks of life. "These are woman that are in transition. They are trying to leave abusive relationships. They are trying to get started in their own world and their own financial security."

Donations pay for the bulk of the nonprofit's operating costs for the Claremont shelter, but the women we spoke with say the added uncertainty is just an added stress at an already trying time in their lives.