Budget forces domestic shelters to close

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. However, the next time a domestic violence victim walks through the building's glass doors in desperate need of help, they will see just empty space

"The building is now empty as a result of the governor's veto of our funding," explains Nicole Shellcroft, manager of the Domestic Violence Center.

"We had adjusted for that cut by laying off a few staff and restructuring the programs that we had here, but on July 28, when he did the veto, he pretty much destroyed our program," says Shellcroft.

The budget asks for half a dozen Domestic Violence Centers to close statewide.

"We were absolutely stunned that the money was completely eliminated," says Jean Albrant, director of the Domestic Violence Center.

With donations from the community, the Santa Clarita Domestic Violence Center will survive. It moved into a much smaller and less expensive building.

Shelter organizers say that with so many victims statewide, shelters are vitally needed.

"The numbers are very staggering. Last year, over 166,000 calls were made to law enforcement for domestic violence, and of those calls, 43,000 came out of L.A. County alone," describes Albrant.

"We take calls here every day from individuals, victims of domestic violence who have not made a call to the police out of fear or out of concern for their children being taken away," says Albrant.

There are paintings on the wall of the new, smaller shelter in Santa Clarita. One tells the story of hideous demons, depicting violence at home that leaves a boy in utter tears. Another picture shows a child holding hot coals which represents holding on to pain and suffering. A third painting shows a child walking toward an open door that leads to peace and a bright future.

Shelter organizers say that's their mission is to help victims find that open door.

If you need help to get out of a domestic violence situation, there are some numbers you can call.

Locally the number is 661-259-HELP, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233.

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