For Immediate Release - February 06, 2013

AG Coakley Calls on Congress to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

Act Provides Critical Support for Families and Victims of Rape and Domestic Abuse

BOSTON—Stressing the critical support for survivors of rape and domestic abuse that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides, Attorney General Martha Coakley urged Congress to reauthorize the bill in a letter sent to Capitol Hill today.

“While progress has been made, there is still an immense amount of work to be done to protect women and families from violence and abuse,” AG Coakley said. “We urge Congress to reauthorize this bill to support victims and send a clear message that our nation does not tolerate violence against women.”

Since its passage in 1994, VAWA has brought the issue of violence against women to the forefront and been a tool for law enforcement in the prosecution of cases. VAWA provides critical support for families and victims of rape and domestic abuse, including funding rape crisis hotlines and centers, community violence prevention programs, and legal aid for female victims of violence.

In Massachusetts, VAWA supports programs such as SAFEPLAN, which is administered by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA). The program provides specially trained and certified advocates to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking who are seeking protection from abuse. SAFEPLAN advocates provide crisis intervention, individualized safety planning, referrals to additional critical resources, education surrounding options available, and support and advocacy services.

“VAWA provides for significant and important federal dollars to support programs that directly serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking across the Commonwealth,” said Liam Lowney, Executive Director of MOVA. “The SAFEPLAN Program is one such program, and it provides crisis intervention and civil court advocacy to victims in 42 courthouses across Massachusetts. Without this funding, SAFEPLAN services would be significantly reduced, resulting victims in crisis to be unable to receive the support, education, and resources that are essential to their safety.”

Last session, VAWA passed the Senate with bipartisan support, but expired in the House of Representatives in the final days of the 112th Congress. The bill may be debated by the Senate as early as Thursday.

In the letter, AG Coakley recognized that despite the developments that have been made since the law’s passage, there is still a great deal of work to be done and that the reauthorization of VAWA is a critical part of those efforts.