On March 7th, President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which has provided funding and support to combat sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking since 1994.
“We join advocates and survivors throughout the country today in celebrating the President’s signing of the Violence Against Women Act,” said Laura Cordes, Executive Director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS), the coalition of Connecticut’s nine sexual assault crisis services programs. “Every day, women, men, and children who have survived sexual assault receive support and advocacy services that would simply not be available without VAWA. I am grateful to the Connecticut Congressional delegation for their leadership and support throughout the reauthorization process.”
Connecticut’s Senators and Representatives were strong supporters of new VAWA provisions that will better protect vulnerable and underserved populations, including LGBT individuals, Native Americans, college students, and immigrants. These new provisions, which were backed by advocates and survivors, faced criticism from House Republicans, who blocked passage of a similar reauthorization bill in 2012.
In Connecticut, VAWA supports sexual assault survivors by funding: bilingual/bicultural advocates who provide services to Spanish-speaking sexual assault survivors; specialized sexual assault victim advocates who work with parole units to support victims when their offenders are released from prison; CONNSACS staff who provide information, training, and support to community-based sexual assault crisis services programs as well as organizations and state agencies who work to support victims and hold offenders accountable; outreach and services to underserved populations including the elderly, people with disabilities, and homeless individuals; grants to combat sexual violence on college campuses; and primary prevention education.
Sexual assault victim advocates throughout the state provided services to over 7,000 survivors of sexual violence last year, a 20% increase over the previous year.