633 Domestic Violence Organizations Demand Reauthorization of Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA)

For Immediate Release 

Washington, DC – September 21, 2018 – Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, Chairwoman Foxx, and Ranking Member Scott:

The undersigned 633 organizations urge you to swiftly reauthorize of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), our nation’s only dedicated source of funding for domestic violence shelters and supportive services. While FVPSA has been expired since 2015, there is now bipartisan legislation in both the Senate and House to reauthorize it. We respectfully request that you take up and pass the FVPSA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (S. 2784/H.R. 6014) before Congress adjourns for the year. We thank Senators Heller (R-NV), Casey (D-PA), Grassley (R-IA), Coons (D-DE), and Cornyn (R-TX) and Representatives Thompson (R-PA), Moore (D-WI), Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Stefanik (R-NY) for their timely leadership.

Domestic violence is pervasive, costly, and can be deadly. More than 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.[1] In addition to emergency shelter, victims report needing medical care, housing services, counseling and supportive services, and many also report missing work or school as a direct result of the abuse. Many survivors of violence must flee their homes in order to find safety. Nationwide, an average of 3 women are killed by a current or former intimate partner every day.[2]

FVPSA is at the heart of our nation’s response to domestic violence and was first passed into law in 1984. Funds authorized under FVPSA support formula grants to every state and territory based on population, as well as funding for Native American Tribes and Alaska Native Villages for community-based programs. FVPSA funds also support programs that enhance services to abused parents and their children, state domestic violence coalitions, and a network of capacity-building resource centers to build capacity to improve intervention and prevention efforts.

In FY 2017, FVPSA-funded over 1,600 local public, private, nonprofit and faith-based organizations across the country serving approximately 1.3 million women (71.5%), men (7.1%) and children (21.4%). These programs provided such critical services as emergency shelter, counseling, crisis lines, safety planning, legal assistance, and housing advocacy, as well as preventative education to millions of adults and children. The National Network to End Domestic Violence releases an annual report entitled Domestic Violence Counts: A 24-hr National Census of Domestic Violence Services (Census). The 2017 Census revealed that in just one day, more than 72,245 victims of domestic violence received services, and 11,441 requests for services went unmet due to lack of funding and resources. Of those unmet requests, 65% were for safe housing.

Another important element included in FVPSA is the authorization of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (‘the Hotline’), which provides free and confidential support, referrals, and connections to the most comprehensive resource database in the country, with over 4,800 service providers in the U.S, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. Over the last 21 years, the Hotline and its Loveisrespect support line for youth dealing with dating abuse have answered more than 4 million calls, texts, and chats from survivors seeking support around domestic and dating abuse.

FVPSA funding has also been critical to underserved and marginalized communities. For example, the Hotline partners with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center to operate the StrongHearts Native Helpline.  American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) communities experience some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the United States and survivors often have limited access to Native-centered supportive services. The StrongHearts provides vital culturally appropriate, confidential services for AI/AN victims of domestic violence and dating violence.

The importance of FVPSA cannot be overstated: these funds help ensure that victims have a place to turn when faced with dangerous violence and abuse from an intimate partner. Domestic violence programs are cost-effective and lifesaving programs that save and help rebuild lives. Two multi-state studies published in 2009 and 2011 documented that the nation’s domestic violence shelters and non-residential programs are addressing both urgent and long-term needs of victims of domestic violence and are helping victims protect themselves and their children. A study participant reported, “This program saved my life. I had no place to go, no money. I now have a job, apartment, and I am learning how to get over my fears. I don’t have nightmares anymore thanks to counseling.”[3]

We are experiencing a watershed moment in our country as survivors of gender-based violence are coming forward after living in the shadows for years, even decades. Our message to survivors must be clear: when you come forward for help and support, it will be available to you.

We urge Congress to immediately reauthorize FVPSA, by passing the bipartisan H.R. 6014/S. 2784. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact ­­­­­­­­­­­­Michelle Mitchell ([email protected]), Qudsia Raja ([email protected]), or Kiersten Stewart ([email protected]).

Thank you for your continued leadership in keeping victims safe and healthy. We know our successes could not be achieved without your support, and we are grateful for all that you do.

[1] Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[2] Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence: Attributes of Victimization, 1993-2011 (Special Report NCJ243300).

[3] Lyon, E., Lane, S., & Menard, A. (2008). Meeting survivors needs: A multi-state study of domestic violence shelter experiences. Final report prepared for the U.S. National Institute of Justice. Harrisburg, PA: National Resource Center on Domestic Violence; Lyon, E., Bradshaw, J., & Menard, A. (2011). Meeting survivors’ needs through non-residential domestic violence services and supports: Results of a multi-state study. Final report prepared for the National Institute of Justice. Harrisburg, PA: National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.