Burlington, Vermont – The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) announced today that it will direct over $6 million in grant funding to Vermont victims service organizations to curb domestic violence. These awards are part of a larger portfolio of new grants designed to help law enforcement, victim services providers, and prosecutors identify and assist victims at high risk for being killed by an abusive partner.
Christina Nolan, United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, noted: “As hard as my office works – and will continue to work – to prevent violent offenders from causing harm and death, we know that victims need more than justice in court to recover and move forward. The OVW grants to victim services groups in Vermont will help identify victims, support their recovery, and give them the chance at living the rest of their lives free from abuse.” A pamphlet summarizing federal crimes that could potentially be charged against domestic violence offenders can be found at www.justice.gov/usao-vt/page/file/1204336/download.
Each year, a significant number of Vermont’s homicides occur in the domestic violence context – nearly half in recent years. And, according to data maintained by the FBI, across the country, over 1,500 women were murdered by a current or former intimate partner in a recent year. “Identifying victims who face a heightened risk of being killed by their husbands or boyfriends—and putting effective measures in place to keep them safe and stop their abusers—is something all justice and victim services professionals want to do. But training and proven strategies are key,” said OVW Principal Deputy Director Laura Rogers. “For that reason, we are building on our prior investments in domestic violence homicide reduction, and doing what we can to help communities in Vermont and across the country implement ways of spotting victims in grave danger and holding offenders accountable.”
OVW’s current and forthcoming investments in Vermont foster coordinated responses, making available resources for investigation and prosecution, transitional housing, and other services for victims. For example, a new National Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Training and Technical Assistance Resource Center, funded through a grant to the New York-based Center for Court Innovation, will provide training to jurisdictions including the City of St. Albans, in Vermont, which has also received a $704,555 award to craft and implement a homicide reduction strategy and other crime response strategies in partnership with the victim service provider Voices Against Violence.
Included in the over $6 million in awards that will be issued to organizations and government agencies in Vermont are:
• $243,619 to the Vermont Network against Domestic and Sexual Violence to coordinate victim services and collaborate with federal, state, and local entities on addressing violence against women.
• $450,000 to the Pride Center of Vermont to develop and implement strategies targeted at adult or youth victims in underserved populations, and to provide victim services to meet the needs of such populations.
• $549,922 to Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, Inc., in Burlington, and its collaborative partners, Vermont Legal Aid, Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services, and Franklin and Grand Isle Superior Court, to provide legal assistance, supervised visitation in cases involving domestic violence, and training for community partners on serving deaf/hard of hearing victims.
• $485,000 to WomenSafe, Inc., in Middlebury; $465,000 to Project Against Violent Encounters, in Bennington; and $351,255 to Steps to End Domestic Violence, Inc., in Burlington, to provide transitional housing and related services to victims and their children.
• $439,754 to Umbrella, in St. Johnsbury, to provide services to children and youth who are victims of, or are otherwise exposed to, domestic and sexual violence, including support for their non-abusing parents and caretakers.
• $391,870 to Have Justice Will Travel, in Vershire, to help identify and provide services to victims in rural communities, prevent and raise awareness in rural areas, and provide legal services to victims in Bennington and Rutland counties.
• $1,308,392 in formula grant funds to the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services to assist rape crisis centers and other organizations that provide services to sexual assault victims and to promote partnerships and collaboration amongst law enforcement, prosecutors, the court system, and victim services providers; and $749,985 to the Center to identify and support victims in rural communities.
WomenSafe, Inc., an organization whose work OVW is proud to support again this year, recently reported to OVW that grant funds afford survivors “a safety net, and a window of time to make and achieve financial goals for themselves, including finding employment and enrolling in training programs or other job readiness or educational pursuits, while still being housed quickly. This can result in shorter periods of homelessness.” OVW, recognizing that safe housing is vital to helping victims get back on their feet, redoubles its commitment to supporting such efforts in Vermont with this 2020 grants package.