National Network to End Domestic Violence Official Website

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Issue Overview

Together, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund create and support comprehensive responses to the needs of victims of domestic violence.

What is happening with federal funding?

Federal funding for VAWA, VOCA, and FVPSA has enhanced federal, tribal, state and local responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, and supported lifesaving emergency shelters and services for domestic violence victims and other crime victims.

VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA funding support domestic violence shelters, law enforcement, courts, rape crisis centers, children's services, prevention, community outreach, and other state and local programs that provide services for victims and families. These programs have made significant progress towards ending domestic and sexual violence. Statistics show a significant decline in domestic violence since VAWA was first enacted in 1994. In addition to saving lives, VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA save money by reducing future violence and other related social costs.

Funding Challenges and Impact on Victims

Across the country, domestic violence programs and shelters are operating with less funding and fewer resources and staff. When victims take the difficult step to reach out for help, many are in life-threatening situations and must be able to find immediate safety and support. Stable funding is now more essential than ever to ensure that programs across the country can keep the lights on, answer crisis calls, and provide essential services for victims fleeing violence.

Fiscal year 2013 funding was reduced by “sequestration” – across the board cuts to the federal government’s spending on “discretionary” funding. These cuts were significant and devastating cuts to domestic violence programs. As the funding is restored and increased, domestic violence programs will be able to rebuild their work and continue to work to meet the needs of all victims who come forward.

Decreases in Funding: Domestic violence programs are experiencing funding cuts or reductions from multiple sources. In a survey of NNEDV’s 56 member state and territorial coalitions against domestic violence, 69% of coalitions reported that domestic violence programs experienced overall funding decreases. 


  • Almost 80% of states reported that their programs were experiencing cuts or reduction in funding from local county and city sources.
  • Approximately 90% of states reported that their programs were seeing decreases in private donations.

Increase in Demand: At the same time that funding is decreasing, programs across the country are seeing an increase in demand for services. In NNEDV’s funding survey, 88% of state and territorial coalitions reported that domestic violence programs have recently experienced an increase in requests. When coupled with the decrease in funding, this creates an unconscionable gap in services.

Impact on Victims and Programs: Across the country, shelters are struggling to remain open, and non-residential programs are reducing their services and hours. Programs and coalitions have also been forced to lay off staff and/or to operate with unfilled positions.

  • NNEDV’s National DV Counts Census found that on just one day, across the United States and U.S. Territories, 71,828 adults and children received services from domestic violence programs. Unfortunately, 12,197 requests for services went unmet due to lack of resources.
  • According to NNEDV’s funding survey, over 71% of coalitions reported that, in the first 8 months alone, some domestic violence programs were forced to reduce staff because of funding shortages, and 66% reported that some DV programs had to reduce victim services. At least 19 local DV programs across the country have been forced to close entirely. Victims suffer the consequences of these cuts, and are often left with no alternative other than returning to their abusers or becoming homeless.

Learn more about the funding challenges facing domestic violence programs here.

Legislative Action

Congress considers funding for VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA each year when they "appropriate" dollars to these programs in the Congressional Budget.

NNEDV co-chairs the Campaign for Funding to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, an alliance of over 30 national organizations advocating for funding for VAWA, FVPSA and VOCA.  The Campaign urges Congress to provide strategic increases for VAWA and FVPSA and to increase the annual distribution of VOCA funding in order to meet the rising demand for services and continue progress towards ending domestic violence and sexual assault.

What You Can Do To Help

Congress must hear from you about the importance of funding for domestic violence services nationwide.

  • Sign-up for NNEDV's action alerts so that you can contact Congress when it is most strategic.
  • Visit NNEDV's Take Action page for the latest news on Appropriations and how you can make a difference by contacting your members of Congress.