TAKE ACTION: Your messages are urgently needed to push back against conservatives in the Senate who are attempting to drastically reduce funding under the Violence Against Women Act. Please call AND email your senators urging them to oppose amendments that would effectively shut down many smaller anti-violence programs and seriously impact services in larger programs.
NOW believes that requiring VAW programs to match federal funds by cash contributions is the first step toward eventually eliminating federal support. The Senate Judiciary Committee began consideration of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1925) today, so your calls and messages should be sent ASAP.
New Information Reveals Game Plan to Gut VAWA - As the Senate Judiciary Committee began its consideration of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1925), it became clear that conservatives in the Senate are pushing hard to eventually eliminate federal funding for anti-violence programs that protect women (as well as men and children) from domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence. They are holding out for a proposed amendment that would require all programs to come up with a cash-only match in order to get federal funds -- a mandate that many local programs would not be able to meet.
Appropriation levels in VAWA 2011 were already seriously reduced, with amounts slashed back to 2000 levels. More than three-quarters of VAW programs, including hundreds of shelters, have indicated that they have experienced a decrease in funding overall (state, local and private sources) at the same time demand for services has increased for most of them! States in financial trouble have reduced support, while private donations have fallen off.
Huge Unmet Need - We know that demand for services are great. Statistics about violence in the U.S. come from the annual one-day census of shelters and services, conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Their 2010 annual survey of 1,746 participating programs found that 70,648 domestic violence survivors were served in that one day. However, 9,541 requests had to be turned away for lack of funds and staff to assist survivors in need of services, such as emergency shelter, housing, transportation, child care and legal representation. Of these requests, 60 percent were from survivors seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing.
Multiplying the more than 9,500 unmet requests out across a full year, it is estimated that roughly 3.5 million violence survivors could not obtain assistance from VAW programs because of inadequate funding and program staffing! Fully 92 percent of programs reported a rise in demand for services, while 77 percent reported a decrease in funding, according to the analysis.
These shocking statistics lend even more urgency to your message to the Senate to fully fund VAWA and oppose any efforts to require state and local programs to come up with matching cash and any other amendments that would reduce services.
Violence is Prevalent - A recently released study, The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, finds that in the U.S., on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Since VAWA was enacted in 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent, and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence has decreased by 63 percent. We now know much more about the prevalence of violence against women, allowing state and local programs to better address remedies. VAWA provides essential resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these crimes as well as to the non-profit organizations that provide support to survivors.
VAWA Focuses on Prevention - The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act as introduced in the Senate on Nov. 30 by Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and joined as co-sponsors by Sens. Michael D. Crapo (R-Idaho) and Paul Kirk (R-Ill.), would maintain VAWA's crucial support and services for survivors of violence.
VAWA 2011 also includes prevention programs that focus on children and youth, as well as ways to engage men as leaders and role models in ending violence against women. The bill provides tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by training law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel on identifying and managing high-risk offenders and connecting high-risk survivors to crisis intervention services.
Rural, Tribal Assistance Provided - VAWA 2011 improves responses to the high rate of violence against women in tribal communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country.
VAWA programs have provided survivors with critical services such as transitional housing, legal assistance, and supervised visitation services. It has addressed the unique barriers faced by victims in rural communities, elderly victims, and those with disabilities. The bill strengthens housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs.
Senate to Move VAWA Soon - The Senate Judiciary Committee has begun finalizing S. 1925, readying it for a floor vote soon. The time is NOW to reach out to the Senate to urge the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act by sending messages to your senators and to urge them to oppose any amendments that would weaken programs' abilities to meet heightened demand. If your senator supports VAWA, please ask her/him to become a co-sponsor and to take leadership in getting a strong bill passed.
National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, Facebook page with action and information items, plus toolkit.