12.20.21

Leahy Announces $2.66 Million For OVW Programs Addressing Sexual And Domestic Violence

(MONDAY, Dec. 20, 2021) -- U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy announced Monday that four Vermont organizations will share in $2.66 million in federal grants from the U.S. Dept. of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

Leahy said:  “Domestic and sexual violence are complex problems which we need to address on multiple fronts, which these grants do.  There is funding for law enforcement investigators, specialized prosecutors and training for judges, all of which is necessary, but there is also money to help survivors rebuild their lives.  Perhaps most importantly, there is money to support youth who are impacted by sexual and intimate partner violence either because they witnessed it or they themselves have survived it.”

Leahy, the author and chief Senate sponsor of the most recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), said:  “I have long-supported the Office on Violence Against Women, which implements the Violence Against Women Act. I will continue my support for OVW and its programs through the bipartisan VAWA reauthorization, which is set for introduction in the Senate next month.

Voices Against Violence/Laurie’s House received $650,000 to operate five transitional apartments for survivors of intimate partner abuse, sexual violence and stalking in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.  The grant will enable Voices to operate the apartments for the next four years.

In addition to rent on the apartments, the grant also helps to pay for services to help survivors regain their footing, including financial counseling from the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity’s Financial Futures program and employment assistance through Vermont Works for Women.

“Oftentimes, people come to us in a place where they don’t have any financial resources, having left them behind or because their partner controlled all of the finances,” explained Kris Lukens, executive director of Voices.  “This grant particularly is focused on helping people move forward.”

An $823,126 Services, Training, Officers and Prosecution (STOP) grant to the Vermont Center for Crime Victims Services will help to fund prosecutors with expertise in handling domestic violence cases, investigators with training in these types of crimes, advocates, domestic violence shelters, and training for judges.  The funding includes advocates with specialized training to assist members of the Abenaki, LGBTQ, refugee and immigrant communities, as well as people with disabilities.

The STOP grant will also support the creation of a Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview training center in Windsor County, which is serving as a model for Vermont and the nation.

In addition, the Center received a Sexual Assault Services Program grant for $415,553 which will provide essential funding for the state’s two stand-alone sexual violence programs, Mosaic in Barre and HOPE Works in Burlington.

“During the pandemic Vermont’s Domestic and Sexual violence programs saw increases in the severity of violence, due to the stress of the pandemic, and never closed their doors.  They are there when people need them most, save lives, and are cornerstones for the safety and security of Vermonters,” said Jennifer Poehlmann, Executive Director of the Center.

A Child and Youth Grant for $499,945 to Steps to End Domestic Violence will be used to support young people who may be exposed to domestic violence in their homes or community, as well as responding to dating violence and stalking experienced by teens. Working with the Colchester School District and other partners, Steps will be developing more comprehensive support services, curriculum and informed policies for responding to violence as well as teaching students about healthy relationships.  “We hope to build a strong, proactive school and community that invests in safe, healthy youth from an inclusive and nonjudgmental perspective,” said Nicole Kubon, Executive Director of Steps.

The Vermont Network Against Sexual and Domestic Violence received $270,782, which it will use to support domestic and sexual violence programs across the state.

“Through the supports created by these grants, survivors of domestic and sexual violence have access to vitally important services and supports,” said the Network’s Executive Director Karen Tronsgard-Scott.  “We are grateful for Senator Leahy’s leadership and his determination that all survivors have access to culturally appropriate, safe, and sustainable services.”  She continued:  “In 2022 survivors will be able to access housing supports, legal representation, specialized assistance from the criminal justice system, and 24 hour crisis services through our state’s domestic and sexual violence services organizations.  These 15 organizations served nearly 20,000 Vermonters in 2021, directly and through 24 hour hotlines.  VAWA grants are key to the continued safety and well-being of survivors.”

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