WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Palm Beach County Rape Crisis Center was recently praised by Governor Rick Scott for its work to help victims of sex crimes. The praise comes just days after the Governor vetoed more than a million dollars in funding for that same center - and dozens more just like it.
39-year old "Celeste" didn't know where to turn when her 13-year old daughter told her she'd been sexually assaulted. "I've been helped psychologically. I've also received legal help to go after the aggressor," she said.
"Celeste" brought her daughter to Palm Beach County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center. Once there, "Celeste" was finally able to admit she too had been abused when she was a child. "You come here to feel the support, to know you're not alone and know that you have rights," she said, opting not to share her true identity.
From medical exams to therapy, victims have come to the West Palm Beach center for more than three decades. Now some of those lifelines could be cut. "We're all unfortunately having to cut down budgets. I just think it's unfortunate," said Nicole Bishop, Director of Justice and Victim Services in Palm Beach County.
Bishop was honored this week by Governor Scott with the Distinguished Victim Services Award. The award for exemplary service came just days after the governor vetoed $1.5 million in state spending - money that would have helped fund 30 rape crisis centers across the state, including Palm Beach County's. "Every dollar that we can find is extremely important," said Bishop. "We have more victims than we can serve." Bishop said there will be about $13,000 less for this center.
The director did not speak with the governor about the cuts Wednesday. She said the center in Palm Beach County is better off than others facing cuts because funding at here comes from multiple sources - other than the state. Fundraising efforts, meanwhile, are ramping up to lessen the impact of the cuts.