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2016 President’s Budget Invests in Services, New Initiatives to Address Violence Against Women

February 2, 2015

Today, President Obama released his 2016 budget, which commits modest investments to programs serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), domestic violence program funding, and some Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, as well as innovative funding across the federal budget.

“Beginning with the NFL, the past year’s unprecedented attention on domestic violence and sexual assault has fueled collective outrage and the will to work toward change,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). “It has also meant that more victims are coming forward for help – and the nation’s responders need to have the resources to help.”

It has also meant that more victims are coming forward for help – and the nation’s responders need to have the resources to help.

The President’s budget includes several needed increases and creates new funding streams to address pressing issues. Specifically the budget would:

  • Increase investment in the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) from $135 million to $150 million. Although this increase amounts to less than $7,000 per local program, it is a step toward eliminating the long-standing gap between desperate need and available shelter and related resources;
  • Increase Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) civil legal assistance from $42 million to $52 million, which would help more victims access vital legal help as they work to rebuild their lives;
  • Target $37.5 million in housing vouchers for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault who need to flee their homes due to violence, and creates additional housing vouchers for which survivors will be eligible to apply;
  • Provide new funding to implement the VAWA 2013 Tribal Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction, which will allow tribes to prosecute and enforce protection orders against non-Indians who commit domestic violence on tribal lands;
  • Establish a new VAWA 20/20 initiative, with $6 million targeted to implement domestic violence firearms lethality initiatives in several communities across the country and $15 million to improve law enforcement and prosecutorial response to sexual assault; and
  • Increase grants to college campuses to $26 million, to address dating violence and sexual assault, seizing on the momentum to address the epidemic of gender-based violence on campuses.

“Increased investments and new initiatives in the President’s budget will help address both victims’ core needs (including shelter, housing and legal assistance) while developing stronger systems to reduce violence and hold perpetrators accountable,” said Gandy. “Many of the new initiatives are in line with NNEDV’s priorities and advocacy efforts.”

While the budget includes increased investments in many key areas, it does not maintain the significant increase in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds in the current budget, and it cuts key programs such as the VAWA STOP (Services, Training, Officers and Prosecutors) program and the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP), both of which are at the heart of the VAWA’s reach and purpose.

Increased investments and new initiatives in the President’s budget will help address both victims’ core needs (including shelter, housing and legal assistance) while developing stronger systems to reduce violence and hold perpetrators accountable.

“VOCA, STOP and SASP underpin our nation’s response to domestic and sexual violence. Improved systemic responses on campuses, in courtrooms and in the community will result in more survivors seeking services and help from a local program – at the very time that funding for those programs are significantly reduced from the current budget,” said Gandy. “NNEDV encourages Congress to maintain the VOCA increase secured in FY 15 and to fund STOP, SASP and all VAWA programs at their authorized levels.”

There are simply not enough resources to meet the need for victim services. NNEDV’s Domestic Violence Counts report found that in one 24-hour period in September 2013, over 66,500 victims received lifesaving services at domestic violence programs nationwide. During that same 24-hour period, however, over 9,000 requests for services went unmet, largely due to lack of funding. The 2014 Domestic Violence Counts report will be released in the spring of 2015.

“NNEDV is grateful to the President, the Vice President and the entire Administration for their commitment to ending violence against women and for investments in these lifesaving programs,” said Gandy. “We plan to work with the Administration and Congress to maintain the investments in the President’s budget and to increase key programs that serve millions of victims each year.”