U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted today to pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA), legislation that is critical to the continued funding of grant programs that prevent domestic crimes and violence across West Virginia. The bill passed in the Senate today 78-22.
"In 2010, there were more than 11,000 domestic violence investigations in West Virginia," Senator Manchin said. "Any act of violence is one too many, and fighting on behalf of all victims who suffer violence is of the highest priority to the people of West Virginia. That is why I have proudly cosponsored the Violence Against Women's reauthorization. Making sure that women and children have adequate protection against violence just makes common sense. Violence Against Women programs make a tremendous difference in West Virginia and across our nation. They save lives and strengthen communities. They offer protection and create channels of hope."
VAWA was originally enacted in 1994 and has been credited with increasing the reporting of domestic violence by more than 50 percent, decreasing the number of individuals killed by their partners, encouraging awareness, reducing the overall prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault, and reducing the costs of health care costs within local communities.
According to the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, licensed domestic violence programs in West Virginia provide services to nearly 600 women, children and men daily. Organizations like the West Virginia Foundation for Rape and Information Services -- which works on the front lines with victims in West Virginia -- have shared the importance of VAWA funding that supports various grant programs in the state.
These funding programs include:
* Services-Training-Officers-Prosecutors (STOP) Grants: STOP grants are the primary grant program used to address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, by allowing states to allocate funds to providers at their own discretion.
* Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforce Protection Orders (GTEAP): The GTEAP program seeks to help state and local governments and agencies investigate and prosecute domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and treat them as serious crimes.
* Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV): The LAV program seeks to make legal assistance available to victims of violence and sexual assault.
* Rural Enforcement Assistance Grants: The rural grant program was established to address unique challenges faced in rural jurisdictions, including resources for victims in remote and geographically isolated areas who face barriers to accessing services.
Grant programs have also been established for assistance with family court proceedings, court-appointed special advocates for child victims of abuse or neglect, outreach services to underserved populations, housing assistance, and partnerships with colleges and universities for training and coordination purposes.