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The Real Cost of Domestic Violence

The Real Cost of Domestic Violence is a campaign to raise the alarm about the dire need for more funding for domestic violence service providers, organized by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and their 59 member programs.

Beyond securing more funding in the state budget, this campaign aims to shed light on the real financial, emotional, and physical consequences survivors of domestic violence, their families, and their communities experience.

Domestic violence programs in PA are at a tipping point, nearing financial crisis that threatens the ability to keep their doors open to welcome victims who are fleeing life-threatening violence in their own homes. Use your voice to support survivors and the programs that serve them by urging support for increased funding for domestic violence services.

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  • On 1 day in PA 827 unmet requests for domestic violence services

  • In 2022 in Pennsylvania 104 victims lost their lives to domestic violence

  • On 1 day in PA 471 unmet requests for housing

A Domestic Violence Line-Item Increase in the FY24 State Budget is Critical to Meet Numerous Unmet Needs

During a single-day in 2023, PCADV programs served over 3,000 victims, but over 800 service requests were unmet because of a lack of financial resources. The number of unmet requests doubled in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Flat funding domesic violence services would mean even more victims won’t be able to receive life-saving services when they need them.

Safe, Stable Housing & Flexible Emergency Housing

The Violence Against Women Act findings indicate 92% of homeless women have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives. In a single 24-hour period, 471 requests to PCADV programs from domestic violence victims for emergency shelter, hotels, emergency relocation, and other housing needs were unmet due to a lack of funding. That represents nearly a three-fold increase in the number of unmet housing requests from victims over the past year.

Economic Safety

Economic abuse occurs in 99% of domestic violence situations and economic independence is one of the best predictors of whether a victim will be able to stay away from their abuser. Yet, funding to support victims’ access to transportation, childcare, durable goods, and other necessities through Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) funding is capped too low.

Civil Legal Representation

Currently, specific Civil Legal Representation (CLR) Projects for domestic violence victims are unavailable to victims in over two-thirds of the Commonwealth. This gap is potentially lethal. Victims with legal representation are significantly more likely to obtain all appropriate court ordered provisions to ensure safety for themselves and their children.

Medical Advocacy Direct Services

Throughout healthcare settings in Pennsylvania, specially trained domestic violence advocates provide domestic violence victims with life-saving counseling, support, and advocacy regarding the health, safety, and injuries resulting from violence. This is often a victim’s only access point to an advocate, but more funding is needed to offer this service consistently.

Domestic Violence Prevention

PCADV programs currently receive no state funding to implement domestic violence prevention programming. With a state investment in DV prevention, people will be less likely to experience domestic violence in the first place.

Living Wages to Retain Skilled Program Staff

Over 800 advocates responded to PCADV’s 2024 salary study which found most advocates (63%) are hourly employees and the overwhelming majority (87%) make less than $25/hr. Because of these non-competitive wages, last year 431 domestic violence advocates left their positions resulting in a 14% vacancy rate at domestic violence programs.

“High rates of staff turnover have resulted in reduced capacity to serve families in our safe house, as well as waitlists for counseling and support groups. Raising hourly rates has helped, but our budget has not expanded to keep up with rising costs. We need additional funds to maintain and increase capacity so we don’t have to turn victims away or delay services.”

Download the PCADV FY24 Budget Priorities

Additional Recommendations for the FY24 State Budget

In addition to increasing the domestic violence line item, investments in these funding streams will further support domestic violence victims and enhance their safety:

PCADV Legislative Priorities

The real cost of domestic violence goes beyond the cost of services; it includes the real financial, emotional, and physical consequences survivors of domestic violence, their families, and their communities experience. Far too often, victims are faced with only two choices: (1) escape a dangerous relationship and lose employment, financial, or housing stability as a result or (2) remain in a situation that jeopardizes safety and increases the risk of homicide. These bills move Pennsylvania toward paving a third path for victims: one of safety and economic self-sufficiency.  


Be an advocate for survivors of domestic violence.

Use your voice to support victims and survivors of domestic violence. By signing up to become an advocate, you will receive action alerts from PCADV when it’s time to contact your elected officials about policies that impact survivors. The actions only take a minute or two of your time to complete, but make a huge impact.

Become an Advocate!