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Bill Would Strengthen Services for More Than 1.3 Million Survivors of Domestic Violence

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently introduced the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act (S. 2259), which would enhance and expand support, protection and prevention for Americans affected by family violence, domestic violence and dating violence. More than 10 million people in the United States are abused each year, and more than one third of women and men in America report that they experienced sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. The bill strengthens and updates the National Domestic Violence Hotline to better serve underserved populations, such as people who are deaf or hard of hearing, expands prevention efforts and creates a new program that provides resources for underserved populations.

“Family violence, domestic violence and dating violence are a public health crisis in this country. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 1,600 people died from domestic violence-related incidents during the last decade,” said Senator Casey. “We must all work together to end this epidemic in our communities; that is why I introduced the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act, which provides vital services for survivors, particularly those from underserved communities, such as racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, seniors and youth. I look forward to working Senator Murkowski and our colleagues to make sure survivors across America have the support they need.”

“Imagine: a mother in rural Alaska has fallen victim to an abusive partner, alongside her two children. The mother and her children desperately need to find a safe place to stay and recover from the abuse, but the closest shelter is nearly 100 miles away and it’s already over capacity. The village they call home isn’t connected to a road system and the family can’t afford air fare to reach the next closest shelter. Instead, they’re forced to remain in a hostile environment and the cycle of domestic violence continues. This situation may seem far-fetched to some, but unfortunately in Alaska this scenario is not unique. It is a heartbreaking reality for too many,” said Senator Murkowski. “Alaska Native women have reported rates of domestic violence up to 10 times higher than in the rest of the United States and physical assault rates up to 12 times higher. As we work to tackle these unacceptable statistics, FVPSA will help ensure victims and their children have the support they need. This is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to addressing the issue of domestic violence and assault, but it’s an incredibly important one.”

FVPSA, which was first passed in 1984, is the only federal funding source dedicated to supporting domestic violence shelters and life-saving programs. Through FVPSA, survivors receive services, such as emergency shelter, crisis counseling, safety planning and assistance recovering from financial abuse and addressing housing insecurity. These programs also provide education and prevention programming to millions of community members annually.

“Thank you Senators Murkowski and Casey for your strong commitment to helping survivors of domestic violence and preventing violence and abuse in the next generation,” said Esta Soler, President and Founder of Futures Without Violence. “Your bill is a giant step forward in our efforts to end family violence.” 

“Since 2014, FVPSA has supported 64 local YWCA associations in 28 states provide emergency shelters, transitional housing, supportive programs, counseling, and hotline services,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA. “But unfortunately, the need for services still far exceeds the resources available. YWCA USA applauds the introduction of this important bipartisan reauthorization bill and thanks Senator Casey and Senator Murkowski for their support working to end domestic violence.”