Administration Putting Domestic Violence Programs at Risk

Last week, President Bush unveiled his budget priorities for 2008, which included a radical proposal to collapse over 20 separate Violence Against Women Act programs into one "consolidated competitive grant program." This program would force individual victim service organizations, police, prosecutors, judges, tribal governments and states to compete for funding from the federal government and would strip away critical, guaranteed funding to states through the Act's cornerstone provision - the STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) grant program.

Since its 1994 passing, VAWA has provided over $4 billion dollars to combat domestic violence and sexual assault nationwide. The Violence Against Women Act's programs range from policies to encourage the prosecution of abusers, to victims' services to prevention programs. Now, all of our work is in jeopardy.

Forcing state governments to compete for limited funding may leave life-saving victim programs without resources and may jeopardize judicial and law enforcement improvements that hold abusers accountable. Those on the front lines of this battle will have to fight for resources to continue their work. This is doubly true for many new programs created in the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 - such as a badly-needed sexual assault services program and a judicial program for teenage victims of domestic violence.

Across the country, women, children, and sometimes men, live in fear in their own homes. It is imperative that this Administration fully fund VAWA and not roll back our nation's successes in investigating, prosecuting and preventing domestic abuse.