Harder Leads Effort to Secure Funding for Survivors of Sexual Assault

May 11, 2020
Press Release

Modesto, CA – Representatives Josh Harder (CA-10), Mike Levin (CA-49) and Scott Peters (CA-52) led a letter with 34 other colleagues asking House Appropriations leaders for $50 million in funding for programs like Family Justice Centers – which were not included in previous COVID-19 packages – that support survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and elder abuse.                                                                            

“We’ve heard horrible stories about domestic abuse as the result of people being trapped at home during the pandemic – now more than ever we need strong programs to protect people,” said Rep. Harder. “We’re going to fight for all the support we need so local family justice centers can help survivors.”

“Isolation, economic uncertainty, and community despair are major factors in the increase in domestic violence,” said Lisa Mantarro Moore, Executive Director, Stanislaus Family Justice Center. “We appreciate Congressman Josh Harder’s immediate response to our concerns in recognizing that at Family Justice Centers, survivors have access to critically important wraparound resources. Survivors can receive assistance in obtaining temporary restraining orders, find safe housing, meet their prosecutor, work with a detective, and obtain forensic exams.”

As people stay home to avoid the spread of COVID-19, victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault are particularly at risk. Lockdowns are keeping victims trapped in their homes with their abusers, away from the resources they need to be safe. Child abuse victims are also stuck at home, away from the teachers, doctors, and counselors that might recognize the signs of suspected child abuse or neglect. While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act made important investments in the Family Violence Prevention Services Act and in the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the bill did not include financial support for programs such as Family Justice Centers – this letter asks for that much-needed change.

The text of the letter is below and an original copy is available here.

 

Dear Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Aderholt:

Thank you for your strong leadership as our country addresses the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. We are confident that your work in the House of Representatives is saving lives.

We write to respectfully urge any forthcoming legislation provide more assistance to Americans during the COVID-19 crisis include $50 million to be appropriated for the purpose specified in 34 U.S.C. 10461(10).

While we are grateful that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act made important investments in the Family Violence Prevention Services Act and in the National Domestic Violence Hotline, this bill did not include financial support for programs such as Family Justice Centers under 34 USC 10461(10). These programs are designed to bring together victim advocates from victim service providers, civil legal attorneys, legal advocates, government victim assistance, prosecutors, law enforcement, and representatives from community-based organizations into one centralized location.

At Family Justice Centers, survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and elder abuse have access to critically important wraparound resources. Survivors can receive assistance in obtaining temporary restraining orders, find safe housing, meet their prosecutors, work with detectives, and obtain forensic exams.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home orders, Family Justice Centers have seen a dramatic increase in domestic violence cases, with Centers across the country reporting requests for services increase by 20 to 30 percent. Therefore, we request that forthcoming legislation provide $50 million in appropriations for the purpose specified in 34 U.S.C. 10461(10).

Thank you for your consideration of this request.