Legislation will combat domestic violence

LOS ANGELES - Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) welcomed nearly 60 domestic, dating, and sexual violence advocates from the Los Angeles area on Aug. 11 to a briefing about federal funding grants available to support efforts to end violence against women.Held at the Peace Over Violence new community room on Wilshire Boulevard in Downtown Los Angeles, Roybal-Allard (D-CA) opened the briefing and discussed pending bills in Congress that can benefit victims and survivors of domestic violence. "As you participate in today's briefing and plan your strategy for future advocacy, I hope you understand the tremendous power each of you has to influence positive change by sharing your personal and collective knowledge and expertise. Your training and daily work experiences provide critical pieces of information to help members of Congress develop policies that are the most meaningful and effective in combating domestic violence," Roybal-Allard said. "And we need your help now more than ever as Congress considers the reauthorization of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act and the Violence Against Women Act. Your active support in the halls of Congress will help ensure we are victorious in reauthorizing both measures which provide the life lines to your organizations and those you serve." The congresswoman also discussed two measures she authored in Congress to combat domestic and dating violence - the Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act and the Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act. The Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act helps to give victims of domestic violence the financial security and independence they need to leave their abusers. Under the SAFE Act, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking who are forced to leave a job because of the abuse would be eligible for unemployment benefits. They would also be able to take unpaid leave from work without the fear of being fired to address immediate needs such as obtaining legal assistance, medical care or to find a safe place to live. "The recession has hammered home the sad truth that economic factors often force victims to stay in abusive and life threatening relationships," Roybal-Allard said. "The SAFE Act addresses this tragic reality by helping to give victims of domestic violence the financial security and independence they need to leave their abuser." The Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act emphasizes the need to focus on healthy relationships among young men and women as a means to combat teen pregnancy and domestic violence. "The bill is based on teen pregnancy data which coincides with new research by the Family Violence Prevention Fund linking teen dating violence and abuse with higher levels of teenage and unplanned pregnancy," Roybal-Allard explained to the audience of advocates. "The need to address this serious issue of healthy relationships is also evident in a study by Jay Silverman published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that one in five U.S. teen girls will report experiencing physical or sexual intimate partner violence." During her remarks, Roybal-Allard also praised President Obama's leadership in addressing domestic violence. "Despite economic and budgetary pressures, it is encouraging that President Obama has taken the initiative to address this crisis and has proposed record investments in domestic violence services in his Fiscal Year 2011 budget," Roybal-Allard said. "The President's proposal doubles the investment in the Sexual Assault Services Program and it asks for a 7 percent increase for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. To meet the increased volume of incoming crisis calls, the President's budget includes a 43 percent increase in the National Domestic Violence Hotline. "The President also proposes a 39 percent increase for transitional housing and a 22 percent increase in legal services for victims of domestic violence. The President's proposed budget increases for these life saving domestic violence programs are desperately needed." The briefing also included two speakers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who shared federal funding opportunities and technical assistance on grant writing. Other speakers shared information on the upcoming Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and how local advocates can have a voice in shaping new and existing programs. The briefing ended with a panel of federal, state, and local advocates discussing teen dating violence as an emerging issue. This briefing was supported with funding to the Family Violence Prevention Fund from the California Endowment. The event was co-hosted by Peace Over Violence, a local non-profit social service agency combating violence against women, and Rainbow Services, a domestic violence agency that operates shelters and provides counseling.

********** Published: August 26, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 19