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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 20, 2022

CGMA provides financial safety for victims of domestic violence

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) recently formalized its financial assistance to survivors of domestic violence through their Safe Harbor Program. This development also coincides with Domestic Violence Prevention Month, which is observed throughout October.

The Safe Harbor Program offers a combination of grants and interest-free loans as needed for shelter, food, transportation, as well as, childcare costs. The funding amount and the length of the assistance that CGMA provides to assist survivors may vary from person-to-person based on the survivor’s needs and circumstances. Erica Chapman, CGMA’s Education Services specialist adds, “We want this program to offer immediate support for the short-term until other resources are available. This could mean up to several months of care.”

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), housing and safe shelter account for more than 50% of the service requests survivors make by in the United States that cannot be met. This is one of the reasons CGMA has stepped-in during the pivotal time of leaving an abusive situation to allow more survivors the resources to transition. 

CGMA’s case manager and licensed social worker Jessica Manfre expounds, “Leaving is often the most dangerous period of time for survivors of abuse. Financial support during this vulnerable stage is a crucial step to empowering a person to take the steps that will secure their safety and give them a higher chance of success away from an abusive situation.”

Some domestic violence victims will find out about CGMA services through other programs they offer and others are referred to them through caring friends or family members. “We have supported survivors before in various ways but we are expanding the support with this formalized program," said Chapman. “The government provides a transition compensation but it can take several months for that to be processed and funds to be issued so we are always looking for a way where we can stand in the gap.”

If you are looking for help and resources you can also contact contact your local Work-Life Field Office, Family Advocacy Program, at 202-475-5100. A Family Advocacy Specialist is available to offer free and confidential support, counseling, safety planning, and resources.

The Coast Guard formally responds to more than 300 incidents of spousal abuse every year. Approximately 60% of those include people involved in earlier cases. These are only the cases reported and investigated. Statistically, unreported cases are likely to exceed three or four times that number. It is not currently known how many children are abused since these cases are generally reported as spousal abuse.

One of the first recipients of the Safe Harbor Program summed up the power of this support, “This has been by far the hardest time in my life. I have lived in fear and isolation for years. My [child] gave me the strength to flee, my greatest thanks for your help in changing the course of [their] life.”

This is the kind of impactful support CGMA envisioned. “The Safe Harbor Program mobilizes financial support as a haven for those taking steps to pursue freedom that would otherwise be complicated or delayed,” said Rear Admiral (Ret) Cari B. Thomas, CGMA chief executive officer. 

To request  assistance please email Jessica Manfre, CGMA's case manager or call  571-438-9501.

Additional Resources: 

  • If you are a victim of intimate partner abuse or need help with feeling safe online or in your relationship, contact your local Work-Life Field Office, Family Advocacy Program, at 202-475-5100. A Family Advocacy Specialist is available to offer free and confidential support, counseling, safety planning, and resources.
  • CG SUPRT – CG SUPRT is available to assist active duty members, reservists, civilian employees, and family members with a full range of issues such as financial matters, relationship discord and other work life stressors.
  • Call 1-855-CG-SUPRT (247-8778) or go online.
  • Chaplains – Chaplains are invaluable resources. Call 1-855-USCG-CHC (872-4242) or connect with them online.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). This hotline can provide information regarding shelters, housing, counseling, job training, and legal assistance in your area. 
  • Coast Guard legal assistance - Coast Guard legal assistance attorneys provide advice and counsel regarding personal legal matters at no cost. Locate a legal assistance attorney.