Violence Against Women Act needs re-authorization, local centers pushing legislators for action

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It’s been nearly two months since the federal government let the Violence Against Women Act expire.

As some funding continues to pour in, it’s the lack of re-authorization that has sparked a sense of uncertainty with area programs.

The Violence Against Women Act is funded through the Department of Justice. 

While there is current funding for the Center for Prevention of Abuse and other programs like it, those dollars will run out eventually, if a re-authorization of the act isn’t made. 

The Center for Prevention of Abuse helps victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says VAWA has been re-authorized three times until it expired in December. 

Legislation signed last week to keep the federal government open did not include funding for the act; however, it did include nearly $500 million in grant money for VAWA programs. Still, a fourth re-authorization is wanted. 

“[A bill] needs to be introduced,’ said Carol Merna, Chief Executive Officer, Center for Prevention of Abuse. “It needs to be debated and it needs to be voted on. We want them all to act positively.” 

Congresswoman Cheris Bustos said she fully supports a bill for VAWA. 

“This will be brought up in a way that is inclusive and meaningful and it will pass,” said Congresswoman Bustos. 

Congressman Darin LaHood said he’s also supportive of the act getting approved.

“This is something that has been in place, has a track record of working, and I voted on it in the past,” said Congressman LaHood. “It’s unfortunate that the democrats didn’t include it in bill last Thursday that we voted on, but we have to come together and bring it to the floor and get it passed.”

Still, leaders with the Center say Illinois’ federal legislators can play a role in starting that conversation. If not, shelters, crisis centers, and other programs will eventually be effected.

“What we need is for survivors to know that members of congress are on their side,” said Merna. “VAWA has always been a bipartisan piece of legislation….so we want our members of congress to show their support and be able to come together and provide good compromise so that a really good bill comes out of this.”

While funding is “fine” for now, it’s not marked safe in the long run, leaving organizations like the Center for Prevention of Abuse pushing for action. 

If you or someone you know is in need of services for domestic violence, sexual assault and more, call the CRISIS HOTLINE at 1-800-559-SAFE (7233). 

Click here if you’d like to read more on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Click here if you’d like to learn more about the Center for Prevention of Abuse

Click here if you’d like to read more on the Department of Justice. 

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