As we wait for Governor Newsom’s and the State Legislature’s final budget for 2024-2025, survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and human trafficking and advocates continue to call on state leadership to fund essential services for victims of crime. 

Elvira Herrera speaking at VOCA Rally at the California Capitol.Elvira Herrera of Líderes Campesinas, an organization supporting women farm workers and children in farming communities, asked in her opinion piece, “I put my body on the line. Will Gov. Newsom fund crime victim services?” Published in the OC Register, Herrera details her harrowing experience of surviving being “held hostage, beaten, raped, tortured, and shot,” and being pronounced dead once she made it to the hospital. 

Herrera, who is now the Violence Against Women Coordinator at Líderes Campesinas, shared how important the rape crisis advocate was when she was at the hospital and during her healing journey. Rape crisis center advocates, like the one that supported her in the hospital after experiencing extreme trauma, are an invaluable part of crime victim services. Without these core services, survivors of crime like Herrera would not have been able to access support after experiencing trauma, leaving them with no one and nowhere to go. 

Sandra Henriquez speaking at VALOR's California Denim Day Rally 2024VALOR’s Chief Executive Officer Sandra Henriquez and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence’s Senior Director of Public Policy Strategies Krista Colón additionally called on Governor Newsom in their opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee and their partner news sources to “please approve ongoing funding for life saving crime victim services.” Henriquez and Colón asserted that no one should have to go through a traumatic experience alone. They further warned that should the California Legislature not back-fill funding, survivors will experience months-long waiting periods, go unassisted altogether, have to stay in violent situations, or worse, lose their lives. 

Henriquez and Colón bring attention to the California joint budget proposal by the Senate and Assembly, which includes $103 million in ongoing funding to crime victim services as the answer to the 44.7% federal funding cut to the state. ‘Ongoing’ is especially important because it will ensure that future survivors will receive appropriate care from organizations that will be able to keep their doors open. Should these cuts go into effect without California back-filling the funding, organizations will be forced to downsize, cut programs, or shut their doors completely, meaning that survivors’ calls across the state will go unanswered. Not only that, once an organization closes its doors, it is exceptionally difficult to reopen them or for a different organization to take its place, resulting in a further lack of access for survivors. 

Krista Colon speaking at VALOR's California Denim Day Rally 2024.Herrera, Henriquez, and Colón highlight that Governor Newsom has championed himself as a supporter of core and essential services to keep Californian communities safe. He has not, however, included crime victim services in either his January budget or his May revision. All three bring attention to the die in that was staged at the California Capitol Swing Space on May 30, 2024, as survivors and activists called on State leadership to support survivors. 

Ultimately, survivors should not have to show up at the Capitol every year to relive their trauma for the Legislature to believe that funding crime victim services is important. Balancing the budget on the backs of survivors is not the way forward for California, and the publications by Herrera, Henriquez, and Colón urge the state government to ensure survivors have funding to safely heal after trauma for years to come.