Help Keep Shelters Open and Expand Services to Survivors of Domestic Abuse

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), a vital source of funding for programs that aid survivors of domestic abuse, expired in 2008 and desperately needs to be reauthorized this year. The Senate HELP committee, led by Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is currently drafting its version but there is a House bill (H.R. 4116), sponsored by Gwen Moore, (D-Wis.), that needs your support. There are currently 103 sponsors, and we need many more to get the attention of the House leadership.

Contact your representative today, and insist that they sponsor this vital bill that will reauthorize and improve the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (H.R. 4116). You can also thank your representative if they are already co-sponsors and ask them to encourage their colleagues to join them in this effort.

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Background:

FVPSA is a federal grant program that funds domestic violence shelters and supports services such as counseling, crisis hotlines, basic needs and legal advocacy for survivors of domestic abuse. Unless Congress reauthorizes FVPSA, over 2,000 shelters in the U.S. and millions of women and children could be left without funding or assistance. With the economic recession contributing to mounting frustration and abusive behavior, support of these shelters and services is more important than ever.

FVPSA was first passed in 1984 as part of the Child Abuse Amendment. It was included in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994 and approved again in 2003 as part of the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act. If reauthorized in 2010, FVPSA will approve $250 million per year to shelters and other outreach organizations that aid survivors of domestic violence. It will also include new programs to help prevent children in abusive homes from continuing the cycle of violence in adulthood and fund intervention, employment training for survivors of domestic violence, school-based prevention projects, and parenting skills development. It will also update the National Domestic Violence Hotline to keep up with changing technology.

For decades, NOW has worked to prevent and reduce domestic violence in the U.S., describing it as an "epidemic" that primarily harms women and teenage girls. Millions of women are physically, emotionally and economically abused by someone they know, love or trust. Every year, more than 1,000 women die from physical abuse inflicted by an intimate partner.

Children also are seriously affected by domestic violence. About three to four million children witness domestic violence in their homes, which causes severe emotional trauma and makes them twice as likely to become abusers when they reach adulthood. Children who live in homes in which their mothers are abused are also more likely to experience abuse.

With domestic violence affecting so many women and children, NOW activists must demand that Congress pass the FVPSA reauthorization (H.R. 4116) in order to provide support to survivors of abuse and also to prevent domestic violence from continuing.