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Who Is Responsible?


A perspective from Anna Lynch


Who is ultimately responsible for funding non-profits that provide services to survivors of sexual assault? Because the services they offer must be free of charge, non-profits typically depend upon large grants from federal, state, and local agencies along with the some private donations from foundations and individuals to stay afloat. But what if that system were to disappear? Where can a non-profit go for funding?

This is the situation in which non-profits who receive the bulk of their funds from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants find themselves. Presently, our local rape crisis center, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, is facing a very significant budgetary shortfall because federal funding through VOCA has decreased over the past three years and continues to fall. According to the Governor’s Crime Commission, the agency that oversees and disperses VOCA funds, the fund will likely dry up or be on very shaky financial ground by the end of the 2023-24 fiscal year. Then what?

At the same time that funding is drying up, we’ve seen record increases in the last two years in demand for services – both direct client care as well as prevention services; we’ve done our best to rise to the call by building capacity and partnerships. But those efforts still leave the agency with a huge funding gap.

Do we really want to live in a society where a survivor of sexual assault has nowhere to turn for support after the attack? Rape crisis centers at a minimum run 24 hour hotlines, dispatch support workers to attend hospital visits where rape kit exams take place, support survivors in court, and provide counseling and support groups. Without rape crisis centers, survivors are left on their own, contributing to long term mental health issues and even more lack of prosecution. 

So what does all this have to do with you? As we move into an economy that focuses more and more on the individual, it is important to make significant changes in how we each view our own responsibility to the greater community. If the government isn’t going to help us, we must help our communities through individual effort. 

One of the criteria that the state uses in dispersing the VOCA funds is the wealth of the community. Chapel Hill/Carrboro is a very wealthy area and as such, funding to OCRCC has been diverted to more rural and poorer areas. While we certainly do not begrudge those parts of the state increased funding, this means that those within our community who care about survivors must step up and open our wallets. Please make a donation to OCRCC today to help the agency reduce significant layoffs and keep services flowing. 

Anna Lynch

Board member

Orange County Rape Crisis Center


“Viewpoints” on Chapelboro is a recurring series of community-submitted opinion columns. All thoughts, ideas, opinions and expressions in this series are those of the author, and do not reflect the work or reporting of 97.9 The Hill and Chapelboro.com.