Elwood City Ledger: Casey bill reauthorizes funding for domestic violence program

An estimated 1.3 million survivors of domestic violence could benefit from a bill co-introduced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and a Republican colleague.

Casey, D-Scranton, and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have proposed renewing the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act.

According to a statement from Casey’s office, the bill would authorize increased funding for the National Domestic Violence Hotline to be improved, especially for underserved communities, such as the deaf and hard of hearing; a new program to provide additional resources for underserved populations; and enhanced prevention efforts.

“Family violence, domestic violence and dating violence are a public health crisis in this country,” Casey said. “In Pennsylvania alone, more than 1,600 people died from domestic violence-related incidents during the last decade.”

Casey said, “We must all work together to end this epidemic in our communities; that is why I introduced the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act, which provides vital services for survivors, particularly those from underserved communities, such as racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, seniors and youth. 

The statement said more than 10 million people in the United States are abused annually, and more than a third of men and women say they suffer sexual or physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.

First passed in 1984, the family violence bill was reauthorized in 2015. It provides grants to states, tribal governments and territories, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

The act funds 1,600 public, private, nonprofit and faith-based groups and programs providing services to domestic violence victims, such as emergency shelter, crisis counseling, safety planning, acquiring housing and financial abuse recovery.

Casey and Murkowski’s reauthorization would increase funding to $252 million and open access to funding to some programs not currently covered, as well as addressing inadequate federal funding for direct services nationwide.

Murkowski described a mother in rural Alaska being abused and then trying to find safety for herself and her two children, but the nearest shelter is 100 miles away and already full.

“This situation may seem farfetched to some, but, unfortunately, in Alaska this scenario is not unique,” she said in the statement. “It is a heartbreaking reality for far too many.”

Alaska Native women have reported domestic violence rates up to 10 times higher than the rest of the country, Murkowski said, as well as assault rates that are 12 times higher.

“As we work to tackle these unacceptable statistics, (the act) will help ensure victims and their children have the support they need. This is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to addressing the issue of domestic violence and assault, but it’s an incredibly important one.”

By:  J.D. Rose
Source: Elwood City Ledger