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ACTION ALERT: Tell Senators to Pass a COVID-19 Package Supporting Victims and Survivors

Congress must acknowledge that racism is part of all of our institutions, as amply demonstrated by the disparate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities and Communities of Color. While we appreciate that the House’s HEROES Act provides funding for domestic violence programs and ensures the long-term viability of the Crime Victims Fund, it provides NO funding for culturally-specific community-based organizations that provide domestic violence and sexual assault services. This is unacceptable - and the Senate needs to hear from you.

COVID-19 has both increased the incidence of interpersonal violence and the complexity of serving survivors. Victim service providers need additional funding to provide critical services to their communities. While the HEROES Act contains vital funding for domestic violence programs through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, it falls far short of providing adequate funding for sexual assault services. Instead of focusing solely on victim services, it funds law enforcement and prosecutors out of scarce VAWA grants, despite ample funding outside of VAWA for law enforcement. It also fails to provide critical funding for tribal domestic violence and sexual assault programs and important protections for immigrant survivors. The HEROES Act furthermore does not require states to strengthen their unemployment insurance laws by recognizing that leaving a job because of sexual or domestic violence or stalking constitutes, “good cause.” We know survivors need more. 

In late May, the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF) sent a letter to Congress, signed by 450 domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, detailing the need for funding and policy changes to protect survivors. On June 8, the NTF sent a supplemental statement to Congress, reminding them of the NTF’s priorities while also acknowledging the positive provisions in the HEROES Act. In the next COVID-19 relief package, the Senate should preserve important provisions that support survivors and, in addition:

  • Provide dedicated funding for culturally-specific organizations that provide domestic violence and sexual assault services through both the Division of Family Violence Prevention and Services in the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families and the Office on Violence Against Women;
  • Address the needs of survivors by funding sexual assault services;
  • Fund Tribal governments to provide domestic violence and sexual assault services;
  • Provide more funding for domestic and sexual violence programs through a VAWA formula grant directly to victim service programs;
  • Ensure that access to safety for immigrant survivors is not compromised by immigration enforcement, by restricting enforcement activities at sensitive locations like courts and hospitals and by prohibiting the detention or deportation of survivors with pending immigration applications; and
  • Allow states to make survivors eligible for unemployment insurance if they leave their jobs due to domestic or sexual violence.

Contact your members of Congress on social media, by phone, or by email through their website. You can find your Senators and their contact information HERE. You can find Members’ social media handles HERE. If you have contacts in Senate offices, email is also an effective way to get in touch with staff who are working remotely.

A toolkit with sample call scripts, emails, Tweets, and Facebook posts can be found HERE.

For more information about reaching out to your Senators and other grassroots actions, please contact Rachel Graber (rgraber@ncadv.org), Dorian Karp (dkarp@jwi.org), and Monica McLaughlin (mmclaughlin@nnedv.org). 

For more information about the needs of culturally specific organizations serving communities of color, please contact Megan Simmons (msimmons@ujimacommunity.org). For more information about the the needs of sexual assault survivors, please contact Terri Poore (terri@endsexualviolence.org).

Posted by Lynn Brewer-Muse at 9:08 AM
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