Last week, there was positive news from the Hill for survivors of domestic violence and dating abuse: both the House and the Senate easily passed the Omnibus Spending Bill, the final funding bill for fiscal year 2018, and it was signed by President Trump on Friday afternoon. This hard-fought legislation will provide much-needed funding to support domestic violence and sexual assault programs, as well as safe housing options for survivors.
Here at The Hotline, we know this funding is critical to helping victims and survivors live a life free of abuse. When intimate partner violence occurs, it is most often not a one-and-done, isolated incident. The desire for power and control fuels abusive behavior – physical, emotional, sexual, financial or otherwise. Survivors often face obstacles to leaving aside from physical danger, such as supporting themselves financially or finding a safe place to live. Abusers may take advantage of these challenges, using them as manipulative, emotionally abusive tools to keep their partners in the relationship. This funding will directly impact The Hotline and other organizations that provide services to survivors, supporting us in our vision of a world where all relationships are positive, healthy, and free from violence.
How the Omnibus Bill Specifically Helps Domestic Violence Survivors and Victims:
- The Fix NICS Bill, which would strengthen the firearm background check system by incentivizing state entry of domestic violence records, is included in the omnibus appropriations package.
- Provides first-time funding of $50 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to support new rapid rehousing projects to serve victims and survivors of domestic violence.
- Includes increases in funding for the following:
- Victims of Crime Act (VOCA):
- More than $4.6 billion (minus set aside for VAWA) for the VOCA funding cap, a $1.8 billion increase.
- 3% set aside for tribes – which has been a major policy priority for the field.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA):
- $492 million for VAWA funding (the highest funding level ever for VAWA)
- Additional $5 million for the rural grant program
- Additional $5 million for the transitional housing grant program
- Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA):
- $154 million for FVPSA funding, which is a $5 million increase for FVPSA tribal.
While we celebrate this news, we acknowledge that the budget also creates new dangers for immigrants, through increased funding for Immigration and Customs (ICE) Enforcement (which will likely be directed to increased immigration enforcement, including deportations) and funding for border security, and does not provide a fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as hoped.
Once more information and an ongoing plan of action is developed by our immigrant rights allies, we will let you know. In the meantime, please express your concerns to your elected officials regarding these and other issues that are important to you!
If you or someone you know is in a relationship that feels unsafe, please call or chat with us whenever it’s safe to do so. Our advocates can help you find local resources like shelters, counseling and legal help, and work with you to make a plan to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible. We are available by phone 24/7/365 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or by chat at www.thehotline.org.