Leahy: More Than $4.2 M. In Grants Awarded To Tackle Domestic Violence in Vermont

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday announced that Vermont organizations have received more than $4.2 million in federal grants to support programs that are vital in preventing and prosecuting crimes related to domestic violence.

The funding was recently awarded in a total of 10 grants from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.  Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department.  Leahy authored and, this year, steered to enactment his landmark Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 that 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 these programs.  

Leahy said, “As a husband, father and grandfather, and as a former prosecutor who saw the aftermath of this type of violence firsthand, I know we can and must do better.  Funding these essential programs in Vermont will help us to better address the needs of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and to help keep these crimes from claiming more victims.”

The grants awarded to Vermont will bolster programs aimed at preventing intimate partner homicides, counseling children and younger victims of domestic and sexual violence, and providing legal assistance for victims.

Since May, five people have been killed and at least one victim remains seriously injured in reported domestic violence-related crimes in Vermont.  With October designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Leahy credited Vermont’s network of service providers for their efforts to reduce domestic violence, support victims and help prosecute abusers.

“We have a great model in Vermont for addressing these crimes, but the sad truth remains that half of all homicides in our state continue to result from domestic violence,” Leahy said.  “There is a clear and present need for these services in our state.”

During the recent government shutdown, Leahy spoke of the importance of continued funding for these programs, which are already challenged by sequestration cuts.

“Despite what an extremist faction in Congress might think, closing the spigot on funding does not mean the victims go away,” he said from the Senate Floor.

Grants to support Vermont programs include:

•             An $866,350 award for HOPE Works, based in Burlington, to support comprehensive child and youth-centered prevention, intervention and treatment to address sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. 

•             For Vermont Legal Aid, a $300,000 grant for civil and criminal legal assistance for adult and youth victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties in Vermont.

•             The Vermont Judiciary will receive $300,000 to implement the Windham County Integrated Domestic Violence Court to address families in crisis which have criminal cases with overlapping Family Court matters.

•             A campus safety grant for Middlebury College, totaling $272,258, to promote the implementation of a community-based response system to instances of violence and stalking on campuses.

•             WomenSafe Inc. in Middlebury will receive $295,011 for a range of programs, including short-term housing and transitional housing for victims and their children, counseling and job training.

•             More than $1.3 million for the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services, including $784,312 for multi-disciplinary teams of prosecutors, law enforcement and advocates to investigate and prosecute crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; and $264,104 for training law enforcement and advocates on how to best respond to violence crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault.  An additional $253,416 is intended to provide intervention, advocacy, accompaniment and support services for adult, youth and child victims of sexual assault.

•             The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence will receive $190,301 to provide intervention, advocacy and support services for those affected by sexual assault.  

•             The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity will receive $560,486 from the Rural Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Assistance Program to increase investigation of domestic and sexual assault cases through the Northwest Unit for Special Investigations, support advocacy with Voices Against Violence, and strengthen the coordinated community response in northwestern Vermont.

Earlier this year Leahy announced that Rutland City had received a $200,000 Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Grant to develop tools to assess and identify victims who are at high risk of being killed as a result of intimate partner violence.

Leahy has long championed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was first enacted in 1994 to provide a comprehensive approach to reducing domestic and sexual violence against women.  The Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which President Obama signed into law in March, renews VAWA’s charter for another five years and includes new and vital protections for all victims of domestic violence, adding protections for tribal victims, immigrant victims and LGBT victims. 

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