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March 5, 2009

Rep. Donna Edwards Honored for her Leadership

Washington, D.C. - The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) yesterday hosted a congressional briefing to push for the reauthorization of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA). Survivors and advocates also met with more than a dozen U.S. House and Senate members and staff to underscore the importance of the legislation, a major federal funding source for the nation's domestic violence shelters. The day's events were made possible by the generosity of Mary Kay Inc. and The Allstate Corporation.

Sue Else, NNEDV president said, "We are urging lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to reauthorize FVPSA because thousands of domestic violence organizations and shelters across the country simply cannot operate without it. This legislation is truly the lifeblood for serving victims of domestic abuse."

Two recent studies demonstrate that the services funded by FVPSA are working, but they remain under-funded. A study conducted by the University of Connecticut and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence found that 99 percent of domestic violence survivors surveyed reported that they received the help they wanted from shelters. The second report - NNEDV's annual Census of Domestic Violence - captured a 24-hour snapshot of domestic violence services rendered. In one day alone, programs served nearly 61,000 victims and answered more than 21,000 crisis hotline calls.

FVPSA provides critical funding for such services as safe shelters, crisis hotlines, and counseling for victims after they make the difficult decision to leave their abuser. Many programs are struggling to make ends meet and need FVPSA to be reauthorized and fully funded in order to continue.

"We need to do everything in our power to end domestic violence," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), author of the Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Gun Ban. "My federal ban on gun possession by convicted domestic abusers has kept more than 150,000 guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. It is time to reauthorize the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act to support emergency shelters, crisis lines and local domestic violence programs across the country. We will continue fighting to keep all children and families safe from domestic abuse."

Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said, "Since 1984, FVPSA has been a critical funding source for most local domestic violence programs, which provide primary crisis services to families in need. As the economy worsens, local programs continue to see a reduction in funding from every revenue stream and some are forced reduce services and close their doors. We need Congress to reauthorize and fully fund FVPSA to prevent further reductions in programs and closures."

Speakers at the congressional briefing included: Jane Tucker, a domestic violence survivor who co-founded a domestic violence shelter in York, Penn.; Barbara Spiegel, Executive Director of the Susan B. Anthony Project; Angela Rice, a college student and domestic violence survivor; and Rosie Hidalgo, Director of Public Policy at Casa de Esperanza.

Capping off the day's advocacy was a reception honoring Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), NNEDV's co-founder and its first executive director. Roughly a dozen Senators and members of Congress attended and spoke. "Throughout all of her work, Congresswoman Edwards has always stood for hope and change. She has demonstrated a fierce commitment to social justice," Else said. "NNEDV would not be in the formidable position it enjoys today without Congresswoman Edwards' early leadership."