The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women is providing $2.66 million in federal grants to be shared by four Vermont organizations that offer programs that address sexual and domestic violence and the money is already rolling out into communities.
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the Violence Against Women reauthorization act in 2011 and sponsored the most recent reauthorization, which ultimately helps survivors rebuild their lives.
“Domestic and sexual violence are complex problems which we need to address on multiple fronts, which these grants do,” said Senator Leahy. “There is funding for law enforcement investigators, specialized prosecutors and training for judges, all of which is necessary, but there is also money to help survivors rebuild their lives. Perhaps most importantly, there is money to support youth who are impacted by sexual and intimate partner violence either because they witnessed it or they themselves have survived it.”
Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Director of Vermont Network Against Sexual & Domestic Violence remarked, “these are substantial amounts of money that really do make that difference in the lives of survivors of domestic and sexual violence.” The program consists of 15 non-profit organizations across Vermont that provides support to survivors. They have received nearly $280,000 from the grants, which will help thousands of Vermonters.
“Every year there are over 20,000 people that access these services, including hotlines, shelter, advocacy, and a lot of emotional support,” said Tronsgard-Scott.
One of the other programs Voices Against Violence, which serves Franklin and Grand Isle counties received $650,000 to provide this critical resource. The funds will help them continue to operate 5 transitional apartments in St. Albans and Swanton for survivors of partner abuse, sexual violence and stalking and will allow them to operate for the next four years.
The Director of Voices Against Violence Kris Lukens said, “we know that it’s really important that we provide those basic services for those individuals until they can get back on their feet.”
Money from the grants will also be used for educational purposes, especially for Vermont youth. Nearly $500,000 is going to programs in Chittenden County and is aimed at helping Vermont’s youngest survivors and students.
“It’s a prevention grant,” said Lukens. “It works with young people, children and teenagers to help them learn about healthy relationships and develop a worldview that will lead them away from using violence and coercion in their intimate partner relationships.”
The other two organizations and their goal for grants are as follows:
- Vermont Center for Crime Victims Services – $1,238,679
The Center received two grants: a $823,126 Services, Training, Officers and Prosecution grant and a $415,553 Sexual Assault Services Program grant. The STOP grant will help fund prosecutors in handling domestic violence cases, investigators and training for judges. The grant will also support the creation of the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview training center in Windsor County.
The Sexual Assault Services Program provides essential funding for two sexual violence programs, Mosaic in Barre and HOPE Works in Burlington.
- Steps to End Domestic Violence – $499,945
A Child and Youth grant will be used to support young people exposed to domestic violence and teens experiencing dating violence and stalking.
Both Karen Tronsgard-Scott and Kris Lukens are looking forward to the upcoming conversation about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which is set for introduction in the Senate next month.
They say that the funding that comes out of that helps survivors across Vermont.