Domestic violence is a critical issue that, according to recent reports, has been made worse since the pandemic. On average, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience intimate partner violence. Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner (NCADV). Escaping domestic violence can result in homelessness as many victims do not have access to safe and affordable housing. Subsequently, Congress has passed some initiatives to address the challenge. In addition to the 1994 Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA) additional federal support includes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).
In 1984, Congress acted by conducting a series of hearings, listening to survivors and advocates. In October of that year, Congress enacted the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) as Title III of the Child Abuse Amendments of 1984. FVPSA became the first and only federal funding source under the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated to providing domestic violence prevention services. The legislation was meant to help survivors fleeing domestic violence by supporting assistance through a 24-hour confidential hotline, emergency shelters, and counseling. The legislation provided funding towards domestic violence shelters and programs. There are over 1,500 local domestic violence programs that rely on FVPSA funding to help more than 1.3 million victims who are fleeing danger each year. Despite the transformative resources that FVPSA has provided, there is still an excessive gap between desperate need and the resources that are available.
Earlier this year, Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-GA), along with Congressman Don Young (R-AK), and Congressman John Katko (R-NY) introduced a reauthorization, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021 (H.R. 2119). In April Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a Senate companion bill (S. 1275). Both bills include improvements to increase funding, expand support for and access to culturally specific programs, strengthen support in Tribal and Native American communities, and increase funding for prevention. H.R. 2119 increases the funding authorization level to $253 million and will create a new underserved populations grant program to assist those living in rural areas, individuals with disabilities, older individuals and more.
The House Rule that passed the House of Representatives to raise the debt ceiling also included a reauthorization of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021.