Judie Caribeaux, executive director of the Family Shelter Service in DuPage County, was the guest of U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, at the State of the Union address.
Caribeaux is a survivor of domestic abuse and has spoken publicly about the negative consequences of the government shutdown for abuse victims who depend on the federally supported aid the Family Shelter Service provides. Among Casten’s top congressional priorities is advocating for women’s rights and protecting women from domestic abuse.
Family Shelter Service was directly impacted by the 35-day government shutdown. Because of the long-running budgetary uncertainty, the organization left vacant counseling positions that are funded through federal dollars. In the first six months of this fiscal year, Family Shelter Service estimates it was unable to help nearly 1,000 people with shelter.
Casten worked with his colleagues to reopen the government and cast 11 votes in the House to fund shuttered agencies and programs. Earlier this month, Casten held two roundtable events with representatives from local organizations, including Family Shelter Service, to address the shutdown and provide resources for those affected.
“Having the courage to speak out about domestic abuse is inspiring and we are forever grateful to the survivors, like Judie, who have helped others,” Casten said. “I believe Judie’s message will open more dialogue in Congress and illustrate why we must work together to solve nationwide issues rather than resorting to government shutdowns that have truly harmful consequences for the people we were elected to serve.”
“I am delighted and honored to be a guest of Congressman Casten at the State of the Union address,” Caribeaux said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is clear that the congressman wants to leverage his office to elevate the voices of those that are often marginalized. Domestic violence is a topic many of us would rather avoid, and he actively wants to engage in conversation calling us to action so we can solve this issue. I am also grateful for his continued efforts to get the government funded, which unfortunately affected our organization. Ultimately, the shutdown and the uncertainty of funding meant more people’s lives at risk.”
For the past 42 years, Family Shelter Service, the only domestic abuse comprehensive service provider and shelter in DuPage County, has answered the call to help victims of domestic violence escape abuse and rebuild their lives. At Family Shelter Service, their mission is to eliminate barriers and provide faster, greater and more equal access to services in an environment where survivors can feel supported and empowered to disentangle from their situation.
In 2018, Family Shelter Service provided 10,809 nights in shelter for survivors and their children, answered 10,647 hotline calls, assisted with 1,644 orders of protection, and instructed 8,500 area students about healthy boundaries and healthy relationships.