(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined Connecticut advocates Tuesday in hailing Senate passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, urging action in the House of Representatives to approve the landmark legislation. The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 78 to 22.
Last April, the Senate approved the VAWA reauthorization by a vote of 68 to 31. But the bill stalled when Republican leadership in the House failed to take action before the end of session.
The Act, first enacted with broad bipartisan support in 1994, dramatically improved the nation’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including strengthening law enforcement, support services and legal safety nets for victims. The latest Senate-approved reauthorization would expand support to members of the LGBT community, immigrants, and Native Americans.
An estimated one in five Connecticut residents has been a victim of sexual violence. It is estimated that one in four women will experience physical, emotional or verbal abuse in their lives, and one in three teens will experience dating violence. In Connecticut alone, VAWA funding helps provide services to 54,000 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault each year. In 2012, Connecticut agencies received $3.7 million in VAWA grants to provide critical services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“As Connecticut’s attorney general, I saw firsthand the profound importance of this law to tens of thousands of victims across the state. To discontinue this lifesaving funding would be truly unthinkable. We have made great strides over the last two decades, but we still have far to go. VAWA must be reauthorized, and we must continue to expand and strengthen our support to the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault so that they and their families may have a chance to lead safe and productive lives,” Blumenthal said. “I continue to be in awe of the dedication of our Connecticut advocates who, despite critical staff shortages and limited resources, continue to respond every day to the thousands of women and families in need.”
With the support of VAWA funding, the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County provided free and confidential services to 4,600 victims of domestic violence and over 220 victims of sexual assault. The Center investigated more than 100 cases of sexual violence against children in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford, and Trumbull.
“VAWA is critically important to victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The Violence Against Women Act crosses all socio-economic boundaries, races, religions and ethnic groups. Victims need our help to become survivors and this is made possible through the Violence Against Women Act. It holds everyone accountable to be sure we are not allowing these violent acts to continue,” said Debra Greenwood, CEO/President of The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County.
"VAWA is essential to our work with victims of domestic violence, including life-saving services such as 24-hour crisis response, safety planning and emergency shelter," said Karen Jarmoc, Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "More than 57,000 victims in Connecticut benefit from VAWA each year and we thank Senator Blumenthal for his continued leadership on this issue."
“VAWA programs and funding are a lifeline to victims of rape and sexual assault in Connecticut,” said Laura Cordes Executive Director of the statewide coalition of nine community based sexual assault service programs, Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS). “We are thankful to Senator Blumenthal for his vote today, and for standing by victims and advocating for a strong bill throughout the reauthorization process,” she said.