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July 23, 2010

Heightened response needed in tough times

Washington, D.C. – The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) today lauded the Senate Appropriations Committee for approving a $45-million increase in funding for lifesaving programs within the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  The vote on the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill is a step toward realizing a greater investment in 2011.     

“We are encouraged by this week’s vote.  By supporting our efforts, the committee’s bill sends a clear message that ending domestic and sexual violence is a top priority,” said Sue Else, NNEDV’s president.  “In these tough times, we are reassured that the Senate Appropriations Committee made the fiscally-responsible decision to increase its commitment to cost-effective, lifesaving services.” 

The bill includes $207 million for the Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors (STOP) grants, which support innovative criminal justice responses that help hundreds of thousands of survivors find safety and hold perpetrators accountable.   

The Appropriations Committee approved more than double the funding for effective transitional housing programs up to $40 million to help victims and their families find safe, permanent housing and rebuild their lives.  The committee included critical boosts for programs that serve victims of sexual assault, legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence and services to address teen dating violence.  The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund was increased to $841 million, $136 million or 20 percent more than 2010 funding. 

“The voices of millions of survivors have been heard on Capitol Hill,” said Else.  “I want to thank the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  We are especially grateful to Chairman Daniel Inouye and Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski for their remarkable leadership.” 

Demand for services is rising as state budgets are facing cuts and charitable donations are down. This creates a gap between the crucial demand for services and available resources.  Despite the shortage of funding, NNEDV found that on one day in September 2009, local domestic violence victim advocates served more than 65,000 people.  In the same 24-hour period, more than 9,200 requests for services went unmet largely due to lack of funding. 

An 11 percent increase in VAWA funding and a 20 percent increase in VOCA funding will save lives and enable more communities to meet the growing demand for critical services. Other programs were funded at the 2010 levels except for services for victims in rural areas and grants to support police responses, which the committee proposed to reduce.  Additionally, the committee did not support President Obama’s proposal to dedicate $100 million of VOCA funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services.  NNEDV and victim advocates plan to work with the Senate and House to restore and increase funding for these important programs. 

“We cannot afford to let demand outpace resources when victims’ lives are at stake.  We look forward to working with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to secure an investment in programs that serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking,” said Else.   

Approximately 2.3 million people in the United States are victims of domestic violence each year.  One in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life, and on average, three women are killed every day at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.