Leahy Announces More than $5M to Support Crime Victims in Vermont, Including $3.6 M to Boost Services for Domestic and Sexual Assault Survivors

. . . Announcements Come As Nation Marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday announced that five Vermont organizations have been awarded more than $5 million in federal grants to support victims of crime in Vermont.  The funding from the U.S. Department of Justice includes seven grants from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) totaling $3.6 million.  The grants will help strengthen services for victims of domestic and sexual violence, including programs in Vermont’s most rural regions.  Three grants from the Office for Victims of Crimes, totaling $1.6 million, will support victims compensation programs.

Leahy, the Senate’s leading champion for victims of domestic and sexual violence, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department.  Leahy authored and steered through Congress his landmark Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which won overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.  Leahy also is the most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for these programs. 

Leahy said:  “Victims of these violent crimes once had few places to turn for help.  That has changed, and I’m proud that Vermont continues to lead in supporting crime victims.  As a former prosecutor I have seen the lives that can be saved and repaired with these programs, and as a husband, father and grandfather I know we can do more.  These Vermont programs make a difference in so many lives, and supporting them is a tangible step toward ending domestic, sexual and dating violence.  I have made the case again and again on the Senate Floor that we must do what we can to put a stop to these crimes and to support the victims.”

The OVW grants will strengthen programs aimed at preventing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.  Recipients include:

  • Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services, Waterbury: $2.46 million from three grants addressing rural domestic violence, sexual assault services and coordinated response efforts. This will include expansion of services in Essex, Caledonia, Orleans, Lamoille and Washington Counties;
  • Women Helping Battered Women, Burlington: $352,416 to provide transitional housing, short-term assistance and services to help victims secure employment;
  • Have Justice, Will Travel, Vershire: $341,003 to provide direct legal services and assistance for victims in Bennington and Rutland Counties;
  • St. Albans City: $300,000 to enhance prosecution of domestic violence, supporting an investigator in the State’s Attorney’s Office, a legal services coordinator and a victim services advocate;
  • Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence: $207,840 to support statewide coalition efforts and service coordination in battered women’s shelters and rape crisis centers throughout Vermont.

The Vermont Center for Crime Victims Services will administer the three victim compensation grants.

Vermont continued to see a disturbing frequency of domestic homicide-related deaths last year, with 8 of 13 Vermont homicides – 62 percent – falling into that category.  Over the past decade, roughly half of all homicides in Vermont have been the result of domestic violence.

Leahy added, “We have come a long way in the 20 years since the Violence Against Women Act was first passed, but as we see from the homicide rates, we still have plenty of work to do.  The newly strengthened law, the programs like these that it makes possible, will help.”

Leahy noted that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and he commended the efforts of Vermont’s law enforcement community to step up educational efforts with the Stop The Violence Vermont campaign (www.stoptheviolencevt.com).

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