(Locator: Baton Rouge, La.)
When Hurricane Katrina sent thousands of evacuees fleeing from the Gulf
Coast, victims of domestic violence faced even more challenges than
Dawn/Domestic Violence Survivor: “Stress goes up, domestic violence will
go up, too.”
(Nat, phone rings) “Battered women’s program…”
Calls are picking up at a domestic violence shelter in Baton Rouge,
Louisiana. It’s a little-known consequence of Katrina.
(Phone counselor) “Yes, I can help you.”
Vikki Peay/Domestic Violence Counselor: “Following the storms, there was
much more media coverage about pet shelters than about any domestic
United Methodist Vikki Peay was a domestic violence crisis counselor
after Hurricane Lilli in 2002. Katrina hit much harder.
Mary Claire Landry/La. Coalition Against Domestic Violence: “Every
single woman that we have talked with, we’ve asked ‘Has the situation of
domestic violence gotten worse after Katrina?’ And 100 percent of them
Two of the three major women’s shelters in New Orleans are closed
because of hurricane damage. That makes life even more difficult for
victims of domestic violence.
Dawn/Domestic Violence Survivor: “Tragedy causes a tremendous amount of
stress. And the first area that stress surfaces is in the home.”
Many battered women say they leave to protect their children. Counselors
are working with FEMA and other groups to let hurricane evacuees know
where help is still available.
Vikki Peay/Domestic Violence Counselor: “It’s terrible. One in three
women at some point in their lives will experience domestic violence.”
Counselors say domestic violence calls went up 50 percent after
Hurricane Andrew hit Florida. The aftermath of Katrina could be even
Dawn/Domestic Violence Survivor: “We pray a whole lot. We go without a
lot. But we’re safe. And that’s what counts.”
There are also questions about continued state funding for domestic
violence programs. Counselors say their services are needed now more
than ever, even though some of their shelters are still not open.
For more information, contact the Louisiana Conference of the United
Methodist Church, at
http://www.la-umc.org or call