Advocates and Community Members Increasing Awareness on Domestic Violence

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700,000 Wisconsin women have experienced domestic violence at one point in their life. That number is larger than the population of Green Bay and Milwaukee combined.

"There's so many emotions. They have experienced so much trauma that they're just in survival mode," Chair of the Governor's Council on Domestic Abuse Renee Schulz-Stangl said.

Sarah Engle is just one of those 700,000 women. While she's no longer in an abusive relationship, it wasn't an easy transition to make.

"It's hard to get out of a relationship. They don't let you go," Engle said.

One of the challenges for many victims is simply knowing that they're in an abusive relationship in the first place.

"They groom you slowly," domestic abuse survivor Heather Bremer said. "You don't even realize what's happening. You're just there."

To better helps victims like Engle and Bremer, the Wisconsin Governor's Council and End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin are seeking $19 million over the course of 6 years to increase the outreach of services available. Some include providing safe housing, financial assistance, advocacy and support, and even legal help.

"Often times our victims are just there representing themselves," Schulz-Stangl said. "They have no legal counsel, they have no one to speak on their behalf, to be able to explain what their rights are, and help them in that courtroom."

Schulz-Stangl says many services are "substantially underfunded." She hopes that if funding is received to make this plan work, victims will be better able to recover from the effects of domestic abuse.

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