By WENDY HOLDREN
BECKLEY, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is calling for the White House to prioritize programs that assist victims of sexual and domestic abuse, specifically programs established by the Violence Against Women Act.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), enacted in 1994 to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence, makes federal resources available for programs that assist victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, including children, teenagers, the elderly, persons with disabilities and Native Americans.
VAWA has been reauthorized by Congress and Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Patricia Bailey, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center, said without this funding, the death toll due to domestic violence homicides would most certainly rise in West Virginia, and across the nation.
“One thing West Virginia cannot tolerate is an increase in already unacceptable rates of incidences of violence against women and in the number of annual domestic violence related homicides,” Bailey said. “Many shelters, including ours, that provide emergency shelter and other supportive services for domestic violence victims and their children may be forced to close.”
She said VAWA provides funding for victim advocates, law enforcement officers and prosecutors so that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence and human trafficking can receive the justice they deserve and perpetrators can be held accountable for their crimes.
Capito joined a bipartisan group of senators, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, who submitted a letter Tuesday to the White House calling for support of the programs.
“We encourage this administration to again partner with Congress to champion critical VAWA programs aimed at preventing abuse, improving the law enforcement response to violence against women and children, and supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence,” the senators said in the letter.
“Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we support victims and survivors by investing in VAWA to ensure that service providers and law enforcement personnel are equipped with the necessary tools to protect victims and to bring perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence to justice.”
The senators said these programs are not only life savers, but they are good investments — VAWA programs have long-term positive impacts for victims of abuse and children who witness violence against family members, which can help stop the generational cycle of violence.
The letter is also signed by Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Bob Casey, D-Pa.
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