Advocates Raise their Voices in Support of Survivors during Advocacy Day
June 17, 2014
Be a voice. This powerful phrase set the tone for this year’s Advocacy Day Conference, a two-day event held in in Washington, DC by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) earlier this month. Nearly 100 domestic violence advocates from across the country ventured to Capitol Hill to lobby for key legislative measures that will strengthen laws that protect survivors and support and sustain vital domestic violence services.
As reported in NNEDV’s recently released 2013 Domestic Violence Counts census, on just one day over 66,500 domestic violence victims received services from a local program. However, nearly 10,000 requests went unmet, in part due to a lack of federal, state, and local government funding which has led to decreased staffing and resources at domestic violence programs.
“It is unacceptable that even one survivor is turned away from services because programs lack the resources they need,” said Kim Gandy, NNEDV President and CEO.
With these financial hardships in mind, NNEDV’s legislative priorities this year included funding for programs such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). Each of these legislative measures plays a vital role in ending domestic violence, and it is largely domestic violence coalitions, advocates, and allies that help push these measures forward. “Coalitions are the unsung heroes of this work,” declared Lynn Rosenthal, White House advisor on violence against women during Advocacy Day this year.
Advocates also called on Congress to address the all-too-common reality of domestic violence homicides. Legislation that holds perpetrators accountable and reduces their access to deadly weapons will help to keep survivors safer.
Additionally, advocates urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which is vital in ensuring safety and security for so many women, as seventy-five percent of undocumented immigrants are women and children. “Due to ineffective immigration reforms, these women are being pushed into the shadows,” said Rosie Hidalgo, Public Policy Director at Casa de Esperanza. Reforms such as the bipartisan S.744 bill have passed the Senate, but are waiting for approval by the House.
The morning advocates prepared to go to Capitol Hill, they were inspired by NNEDV Voice for Survivors honoree Teri Jendusa Nicolai who said, “By some miracle, I survived a brutal attack by my ex-husband who left me for dead. I know that I now must use my voice for other survivors. In fact, we are all voices for survivors.”