Four organizations will share $2.66 million in federal grants to fight domestic and sexual violence

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The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women is providing $2.66 million in federal grants to be shared among four Vermont organizations that deliver sexual and domestic violence programs and the money is already flowing in the communities.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in 2011 and sponsored the most recent reauthorization, which is ultimately helping survivors rebuild their lives.

“Domestic and sexual violence are complex issues that we need to address on many fronts, which these grants do,” said Senator Leahy. “There are funds for law enforcement investigators, specialist prosecutors and the training of judges, which is needed, but there is also money to help survivors rebuild their lives. Perhaps most importantly, there is money to support young people who are affected by sexual and domestic violence, either because they have witnessed it or because they have survived it themselves.

Karen Tronsgard-Scott, director of the Vermont Network Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, remarked, “These are substantial sums that really make a difference in the lives of survivors of domestic and sexual violence.” The program consists of 15 nonprofit organizations across Vermont that provide support for survivors. They received nearly $280,000 in grants, which will help thousands of Vermonters.

“Every year, more than 20,000 people access these services, including helplines, shelters, advocacy and lots of emotional support,” Tronsgard-Scott said.

One of the other Voices Against Violence programs, which serves Franklin and Grand Isle counties, received $650,000 to provide this essential resource. The funds will help them continue to operate 5 transitional apartments in St. Albans and Swanton for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and harassment and will keep them running for the next four years.

Voices Against Violence director Kris Lukens said: “We know it’s really important that we provide these basic services to these people until they can get back on their feet.

Grant money will also be used for educational purposes, especially for young people in Vermont. Nearly $500,000 is going to programs in Chittenden County aimed at helping Vermont’s youngest survivors and students.

“It’s a prevention grant,” Lukens said. “He works with youth, children and adolescents to help them discover healthy relationships and develop a worldview that will move them away from the use of violence and coercion in their intimate relationships.”

The other two organizations and their grant targets are:

  • Vermont Center for Services to Victims of Crime – $1,238,679

The Center received two grants: an $823,126 grant for Services, Training, Agents and Prosecutions and a $415,553 grant for the Sexual Assault Services Program. The STOP grant will help fund prosecutors in handling domestic violence cases, investigators, and training for judges. The grant will also support the establishment of the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview Training Center in Windsor County.

The Sexual Assault Services Program provides critical funding to two sexual violence programs, Mosaic in Barre and HOPE Works in Burlington.

  • Steps to End Domestic Violence – $499,945

A Children and Youth Grant will be used to support young people exposed to domestic violence and teens experiencing dating violence and bullying.

Karen Tronsgard-Scott and Kris Lukens look forward to the next conversation on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which is expected to be introduced in the Senate next month.

They say the resulting funding helps survivors in Vermont.

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