Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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Six Questions:

Six questions for Sue Meuschke

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Susan Meuschke is executive director of the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, which received $260,000 in stimulus money. When our employees make changes in peoples lives, those people are able to go back to work more quickly, she says.

In late June the state attorney general handed out $1.1 million to groups across Nevada that help victims of domestic violence, granting the largest amount, $260,000, to the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence. Sue Meuschke is executive director of the Reno-based nonprofit organization, which works with 15 programs statewide. She said the award was timely, given that the economic crisis is ratcheting up the tension in many households.

Where will the money go?

Most of it will be passed through to other organizations throughout the state that offer legal advocacy, meaning services ranging from providing information on the justice system to accompanying a victim in court.

Is this a good use of stimulus funding?

Actually, it will help save at least five full-time jobs because a federal grant that paid those salaries just ended. Also, a multiplier effect comes into play. When our employees make changes in people’s lives, those people are able to go back to work more quickly.

Do you think more stimulus money should go to nonprofit organizations?

Yes. They should be used to reinvest in the community. The social safety net is stretched very thin by the economy.

How is the economy related to domestic violence?

What we are seeing is that the economy is causing folks to stay longer in abusive relationships. Where are they going to go? They have a less positive outlook about options for finding a job or a place to live.

Are they seeking different services?

People come with more serious issues because they’ve been exposed to more abuse. They may have more trauma. They may have more medical issues, more difficult legal cases. They need help for a longer period. But the system is often better equipped to handle emergencies, helping people get on their feet relatively quickly. Everything is exacerbated by staying in relationships longer, and then the victims have less options. It’s a vicious circle. This puts stress on the work we do. So we’re asking ourselves how we can do it better.

Are you coming up with any answers?

We’re seeing that we need to be addressing the economic issues more in the lives of domestic violence victims. So we’re educating ourselves about other groups that work in this area, educating those groups about domestic violence as an issue and educating clients more about long-term economic stability. It didn’t happen just yesterday, this connection between the economy and violence, but now it’s more intense.

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