COLORADO SPRINGS — April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and supporters of survivors’ programs are urging the state legislature to keep resources funded and readily accessible to anyone who needs them.
According to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA), the state has seen a 40% cut in funding from the federal government for sexual assault resources. The group is currently urging the legislature to pass a bill so these facilities stay open, and so the people who maintain them stay employed.
Senate Bill 22-183 would permit the state department of human services to enter into an agreement with a federally recognized domestic violence or sexual assault coalition for program services. It would also create the state domestic violence and sexual assault services fund, and would transfer $6 million to the fund from the behavioral and mental health cash fund. In addition, the bill creates the Colorado crime victim services fund and requires the state treasurer to transfer $35 million to the fund from the economic recovery and relief cash fund.
Brie Franklin, CCASA’s Executive Director, said without these much needed funds, Colorado could see drastic effects on survivor’s programs, especially since they’ve seen an increase in demand for services following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The need has gone up while the funding has gone down,” Franklin said in an interview with Fox21. “Our best research tells us that… one-in-three women and one-in-four men in Colorado have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Not only is it affecting at least 25% of our population, but there’s further effects as far as, then those individuals and their families, their friends, the community, is impacted by sexual violence. So this is an issue that is endemic, and really the state has a responsibility to address and to provide support services so that survivors can heal.”
The bill has been introduced in the state senate and moves to a hearing on April 7th.