In Burlington, Leahy, Sorrell, Others Offer Support For Critical Domestic Violence Assistance Program

Leahy-Authored Reauthorization Bill Will Help Vermont Reduce Domestic Violence Homicides

BURLINGTON – Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), landmark legislation that has been the centerpiece of the federal government’s efforts to stamp out domestic and sexual violence for more than 18 years. 

Joined at the Burlington Police Department Monday morning by Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell, Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling, and Karen Tronsgard-Scott, the executive director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Leahy and others spoke about the critical resources available through VAWA to support the state’s efforts to address domestic and sexual violence and help victims receive the assistance they need.

“For the past 18 years, the Violence Against Women Act has provided them with the tools they need to do their jobs,” said Senator Leahy.  “Funding through VAWA has helped the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence assist more than 7,000 adults and nearly 1,400 children in the past year alone. It has provided Attorney General Sorrell’s office with the resources to establish a position dedicated to addressing domestic violence.  And VAWA provides critical training to our police and prosecutors, and support for transitional housing so that victims and their children do not have to stay in dangerous surroundings.”

Three women are killed every day by abusive husbands or boyfriends, according to national statistics.  In Vermont, fifty-one percent of all homicides since 1994 were related to domestic violence.  Senator Leahy has authored legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, including tools to prevent domestic violence homicide.

“VAWA has played an important role in helping Vermonters reduce domestic violence in our communities, but much remains to be done,” Attorney General Sorrell said.  “Since 1994, more than half of Vermont’s homicides have been domestic violence related. Reauthorizing VAWA will allow Vermonters to more effectively prevent these terrible crimes.  Senator Leahy’s successful efforts to continue this critical federal funding assistance are greatly appreciated.”

“Law enforcement response to and advocacy for domestic and sexual violence has evolved greatly in the past 18 years in large part based on the work, often evidence-based, made possible by VAWA funding,” said Chief Schirling.  “There is much more work still to be done to bring the violence and homicide rates down.  VAWA should continue to play an integral role in that work.”

“The Violence Against Women Act provides life saving and life changing services to families throughout Vermont and our nation,” said Director Tronsgard-Scott.  “The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence deeply appreciates Senator Leahy's continuing commitment to VAWA and his determination to re-authorize it, ensuring that all survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking have access to vital services.”

Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act on February 2.  The bill includes an important increase in all-state minimum funding formulas for key grant programs.  This guaranteed baseline of funding will ensure that small, rural states like Vermont have access to victim services grants authorized under VAWA.  The bill also includes important definitions to ensure that Vermont remains an eligible state under the definition of a rural jurisdiction.  Leahy has long championed all-state minimum funding formulas for a variety of federal grant assistance programs. 

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