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June 5, 2012

This week, NNEDV is hosting its annual Advocacy Day to push for its top legislative priority.  Nearly 100 victim advocates from coalitions against domestic and sexual violence in nearly every state and U.S. territory are in Washington, DC this week to meet with lawmakers and promote a strong, bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that meets the needs of all victims.  The landmark legislation has enjoyed broad bipartisan support for nearly two decades but has seen unprecedented setbacks in recent weeks.

"It is important now more than ever that lawmakers hear from victim advocates about why we must urgently pass a strong, bipartisan VAWA that meets the needs of all victims," said Sue Else, NNEDV's president.  "Thousands of advocates have recommended thoughtful, critical improvements that will strengthen this cost-effective, life-saving legislation."

In a bipartisan, 61-38 vote, the Senate passed a bill that includes significant enhancements without increasing costs. They include increased protections for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.  The House adopted a harmful version of the bill that rolls back vital protections and ignores the advice of thousands of experts in the field.  Both bills reauthorize the major grant programs and include measures that would streamline programs and services.  Now, Congress must develop a final bill.  Advocates are urging Congress to pass a bill that protections all victims and does not erode vital protections.

"During this time of great need, we should be expanding and strengthening proven programs and services, not weakening them," said Else. "Anything less than a bill that serves all survivors is simply unacceptable. This week, we will send a message loud and clear that we must move forward quickly because lives are literally on the line."

On average, three women a day are killed by a current or former intimate partner. One in four women will be the victim of domestic violence at some in her lifetime. One in five women experience rape over the course of her life. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

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