Sexual assault services at risk of closing due to Illinois budget impasse

Hundreds of people use sexual assault services every year in southern Illinois, but some may soon have no place to go.

The budget impasse in Illinois is holding up funding for those services and countless others as the state inches closer toward 10 months with no budget. Rape crisis programs in Carbondale are among those threatened.

The staff at the Women’s Center have become a familiar sight to Robyn Del Campo. She says she was a victim of sexual assault this past fall. Del Campo says the center’s help and support, from hospital to home, made a world of difference to her.

"They told me everything was going to be okay. The Women’s Center brought me clothes, because I had to give them up [for rape kit testing]. So it was nice to have the women’s center there to calm me down, let me know what all the legal procedures were and what they were going to do," Campo said.

If the budget impasse doesn’t end or if legislators don’t pass funding soon, the phones at the rape crisis hotline could soon go dead, and other sexual assault services could be shut down by July 1.

Lindsay Stockhecke at the Women’s Center says the center is nearly $200,000 in the hole without state funding. Without it, they may have to close. She says hundreds of victims, including children, won’t have anywhere to turn for help.

"I mean, honestly, it’s awful. There is no other rape crisis center serving southern Illinois. The next closest will be Belleville, and they don’t serve our counties,” Stockhecke said. She says the center offers counseling, advocacy, legal advice, even training to local medical crews and law enforcement teams on what to do when dealing with sexual assault cases. She says the people here will suffer without these services.

"They’ve done so much for me and other women that I’ve talked to. They do so much, and they should keep it that way. And I feel awful for the women that might have to go through that without it," Del Campo said. She says she hopes lawmakers step up for the victims and finally pass funding for rape crisis programs throughout the state.

The Women’s Center is urging locals to demand their lawmakers pass funding for sexual assault services.

For more information on the center or to donate to help keep the services going, click here.