Domestic violence victims face financial battle

Lawmakers seek to add barriers to abuse victims. / Jessica Fairley

Georgia lawmakers are once again debating House Bill 86. This bill would impose drug tests on domestic violence victims who directly or indirectly benefit from public funds and live within shelters.

The House Judiciary Civil committee has voted to exempt the women.

"If we're going to require domestic violence victims to be drug screened at their own cost, when they don't have any money and they're in the shelter, the burden then will fall on the shelter," says Silke Deeley, Liberty House Executive Director.

Deeley says this only adds another barrier to their problems and those affected by domestic abuse agree.

"I've had a very personal encounter with that and it was actually my cousin. When she was going through that I felt like it would be even more abuse on her because that would make it feel like she's not the victim," says Victoria Judkins.

Professionals who work with abuse victims say if barriers are strengthened, the victims are not going to leave because they have no way of supporting themselves.

They say it's hard enough for victims to get assistance to begin with, but not everyone agrees that domestic abuse victims should be exempt.

"Everyone should be tested, not just a select few, there are a lot of people abusing the system that do drug. It's sad that the people that really do need help and are not on drugs have to be punished with the one that do abuse the system," says Nasha Roach.

Silke Deeley explained that with victims sometimes drug abuse and physical abuse go hand in hand because women often use drugs to cope with the pain.

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