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June 20, 2008

Advocates from across the country praised the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for approving $415 million in funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and $635 million in funding for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).

"Domestic and sexual violence victims and their advocates thank the leadership of CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL), as well as Appropriations Committee Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS)," said Sue Else, President of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). "They have worked tirelessly to increase funding for VAWA and VOCA and these increases are an important step toward meeting the dire needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence."

Each year, more and more victims of domestic violence find the courage to reach out for help.  According to NNEDV's National Census of Domestic Violence Services, in just one day, domestic violence programs served more than 53,000 adults and children.  At the same time, more than 7,707 requests for help went unmet because the programs did not have the resources to help them.  The struggle to meet victims' needs was compounded by extreme cuts to VOCA and cuts to essential VAWA programs in FY 08.  Advocates see the Senate bill's increases as essential to supporting domestic violence victims.

"Funding increases to VAWA and VOCA are critical for helping victims nationwide access lifesaving services," said Else.  "We recognize that the Committee faces a tight fiscal year.  We applaud their continued commitment to victims of domestic violence and look forward to working with them as the bill moves forward in the Senate."

The Senate CJS bill includes increased funding for key VAWA programs, increasing the efficiency and ability of police, courts, battered women's shelters, rape crisis centers, and other victim services providers to respond to life-threatening situations faced by victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.  Critical programs receiving funding increases include:  STOP grants that support collaborated community approaches to ending domestic violence; legal services for victims; services for victims in rural communities; and support for sexual assault programs.

VOCA is a key funding source to support victims of all types of crimes, including domestic and sexual violence.  Approximately 4,400 agencies rely on VOCA funding to serve 3.8 million domestic and sexual assault victims each year.  Increases to VOCA will further the efforts of local domestic violence shelters to serve victims and their families.