Stop pushing survivors into the shadows.

These letters ask our Senators and Representatives to oppose Amendments and Provisions that seek to induce certain jurisdictions qualified as "sanctuary cities" for immigrants to intertwine Law Enforcement and the Immigration systems.  Immigrant survivors are already afraid of reporting abuse to the police for fear of being deported. The merging of the two systems will further push these survivors into the shadows by increasing their fear of reporting abuse to the police. It will also defeat the Congressional purpose of creating safer communities by encouraging victims to come forward, which is explicit in the bipartisan bill Violence Against Women Act.  

You are Invited to a Special Briefing:

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence,

The National Organization for Women, and 

The National Council of Women’s Organizations 

Invite you to a Special Briefing

Cyberstalking and Online Threats

Wednesday, April 15 at 10:00 a.m.

2237 Rayburn House Office Building, WDC*

In coordination with The Victims’ Rights Caucus (Representatives Judge Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA), co-chairs) and Representative Katherine Clark (D-Mass)

Presenters Include:

  • Michelle Garcia, Director of the Stalking Resource Center
  • Zoe Quinn, Video Game Developer and Co-founder of Crash Override
  • John Wilkinson, Attorney Advisor at AEquitas: The Prosecutors' Resource on Violence Against Women
  • Danielle Keats Citron, Lois K. Macht Research Professor and Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace 

For information and to RSVP:  Rachel Graber at rgraber@ncadv.org, (202)467-8714

* Interested advocates who can’t attend the meeting can watch a live stream via twitter.  On Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., tune into the National Center for Victim’s of Crime’s twitter site @CrimeVictimsOrg. Go to the link in the post that says #Periscope and click on the random letters and the video should appear.

For folks who do not use Twitter, go to www.twitter.com and follow the instructions on the website to create an account. Once you have logged in, type @CrimeVictimsOrg into the search box in the upper right corner to find NCVC's page. Each Tweet is similar to a Facebook post, but the number of characters are limited. Click on the link in the post that says #Periscope to view the video. Do NOT click directly on #Periscope; the link you want to click on is the string of random characters following the word. 

 

The Need For VOCA Assistance Funding

In FY 15, Congress released $2.36 billion from the Crime Victims Fund, an amount approximating the average collections into the fund for each of the past 3 years. This represents a 3.5-fold increase in funding over previous years. Because of the way the funding is disbursed, the increase will be almost entirely applied to grants for victim assistance at the state and local levels. 

As a point of comparison, while states received a total of $456 million in victim assistance funding in FY 2014, that funding is expected to be $ 1.9 billion for FY 15.

Some have wondered whether such an increase in funding can be responsibly absorbed by the states. This document attempts to identify the funding needs for victim services, to simply extending victim services to meet the current demand for services or to reach new populations or provide new services. However, states have considerable flexibility in using their VOCA assistance funding to meet the particular needs of victims in their communities; thus, not all states would choose to fully fund each of the services identified here.

In addition to state and local programs, there is a real need to fund tribal programs. Crime victimization rates on tribal lands have been estimated as much as 250% higher than the national rate; murder rates of American Indian women on some reservations are 1000% higher than the national average.  Tribal governments, like other governments, are responsible for meeting the needs of victims in their communities. Unfortunately, tribal governments often have few or no resources available to provide services to victims, and, as a result, the victim services infrastructure on tribal lands lags significantly behind the rest of the country. 

The need for additional resources in order to meet the needs of crime victims has been more than amply documented by a Bureau of Justice Statistics study showing that, between 1992 and 2009, only 9 percent of serious violent crime victims received help or advice from a victim service agency. (http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4950).

Need for VOCA Assistance Funding

  1. Maintain existing funding for programs. In considering the total funding need, it is important to remember that existing services are already funded at $456 million. This would need to be at least $512 million, an additional $56 million, to restore funding to the same level in real dollars as in 2000.
  2. ADDITIONAL FUNDING NEEDS.   The specific examples of funding needs referenced here are very rough calculations, but are provided as a means of illustration.

Across the board increases for existing programs. In most states, the limitations on funding have meant that needs to update technology or upgrade infrastructure have been long neglected. One mid-sized state estimated it would spend between $1,000 and $5,000 per program for infrastructure upgrades, and $1,000 to $1 million per technology upgrades for each of its subgrantees. 

In addition, staff salaries have been frozen for many years, and many service organizations have been unable to provide benefits. As a result, victim service programs suffer the routine loss of trained and experienced staff, limiting the capacity of programs to meet demand. One mid-sized state has recommended increasing VOCA-funded salaries at the modest rate of 5%. Another, smaller state has indicated it plans to spend more than $700,000 over the next three years to increase staff salaries and benefits.   

Children’s Advocacy Centers provide a child-focused, multidisciplinary response to child abuse, especially child sexual abuse. CACs bring together law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental health, medical, family/victim advocacy, and other resources in a model community response to child abuse, in order to achieve better outcomes for victims and families. 

NEED: Every one of the 800 existing programs can use at least one more professional, whether a counselor, a victim advocate, or a forensic interviewer. At an average salary of $50,000 x 800 CACs, that would require an additional $40 mil.

In addition, 1,000 counties do not have access to a CAC. At an average annual budget of $200,000, meeting that need would cost $200 million

Native American children are at increased risk for victimization, but very few CACs exist on tribal lands. While some tribal communities may be served by CACs off the reservation, the average driving distance to a CAC from tribal lands is 62 miles. For over 100 tribal communities, the driving distance is between 100 and 300 miles.  Creating access to CACs for 100 tribal communities at an average annual budget of $200,000 would cost $20 million. Creating it for 250 tribes (less than half the tribes in the nation) would cost $50 million.

Domestic Violence Victim Services include emergency shelter, advocacy, legal services, counseling, rehousing, education, prevention, and domestic violence hotlines.  These life-saving services are vital to the safety and recovery of victims.

NEED: In 2013 alone, programs were forced to cut almost 1,700 staff positions.  At an average salary of $41,000 (not including benefits), simply to return to 2012 staffing levels would cost approximately $80 million.   

This number is artificially low, however, because shelters and other direct service providers were already understaffed in 2012 and have been never been funded adequately to meet the needs of victims.

Sexual Assault Services help victims heal and help the criminal justice system respond better. Nearly 1 in 5 women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape. When advocates are present in the legal and medical proceedings following rape, victims fare better in both the short- and long-term recovery, experiencing less psychological distress, physical health struggles, sexual risk-taking behaviors, self-blame, guilt, and depression. Rape survivors supported by advocates were 59% more likely to have police reports taken than survivors without advocates, whose reports were only taken 41% of the time.

NEED: According to a 2014 survey by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, more than 1/3 of rape crisis centers have a waiting list for services, especially counseling. The average wait time is 5 weeks. More than 40% of centers have had to reduce staffing in the past few years due to funding cuts, losing an average of 3 positions. To fully serve victims, each of the 1300 existing centers needs at least 3 additional advocates: one to reach unserved and underserved victims; another for campus, youth, and military victims; and one to address the waiting lists and start support groups for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. At an average salary and benefits of $50,000 (x 3 positions x 1300 centers) that would be an estimated $195 million

Tribal Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services. Native American women are assaulted at rates two and a half times the national average. While some tribes provide services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, resources for doing so are woefully inadequate. 

NEED: For FY 2014, DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women received applications from tribal governments requesting approximately $55.6 million for domestic violence and sexual assault services in its two primary tribal grant programs. OVW provided $33.26 million, suggesting an unmet need of at least $22 million.

Stalking victim services.  Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. It is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. Stalkers can be current or former intimate partners, or they can be colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, or strangers. Unfortunately, victims of stalking—particularly non-intimate partner stalking—rarely have access to community-based services that can provide support, safety planning, advocacy, and other services. 

NEED: A specialized victim advocate for stalking victims is estimated to cost $70,000 in salary, benefits, travel, and administrative costs. To fund one position for every four counties or county-equivalents would total approximately $55 million

To fund one stalking expert in half of the 566 tribal communities at $50,000 for salary and benefits would cost $14 million.

Services for trafficking victims. Sex and labor trafficking victims need specially designed services, including specialized shelter services, case management, legal services, navigators to connect trafficking victims with these and other services, as well as training and outreach to the criminal justice, child protection, and other professionals who come into contact with such victims. 

NEED: While precise calculations are not available, Minnesota is considered a leader in funding services for sex trafficking victims. It recently increased its spending to $5 million. While the Minnesota funding does not include labor trafficking victims, it still represents a useful starting figure for funding. If every state funded trafficking services at $5 million, and DC and the territories funded it at ¼ that level, there would be a total funding need of $255 million.

To fund one trafficking expert in half of the 566 tribal communities at $50,000 for salary and benefits would cost $14 million

Legal assistance for victims

Victims’ rights clinics. Victims’ rights clinics represent the rights and interests of victims in the criminal case. They ensure that rights will be honored in practice, not just in statute. To date, only a few clinics have been created, though the need has been recognized. 

NEED: An estimated 74 victims’ rights clinics are be needed to meet the demand across the country (one clinic per 6 million residents, with a minimum of one per state and territory/DV) at a cost of $500,000 per clinic, for a total of $37 million.

To meet the unique legal needs of tribal victims, each tribal community would ideally have access to a victims’ rights attorney who is familiar with tribal law, custom, and culture. Providing one attorney for each Indian tribe at $80,000 for salary and benefits would cost $45 million. Alternatively, ensuring that every state victims’ rights clinic employs an attorney with expertise in Indian law and cultural competence working with tribal communities would cost a total of $4 million

Civil and family law assistance for victims. Legal services are second only to medical services as the most-requested need of victims. However, of all victims of violence against women who reported needing legal services, 64% received NO assistance from an attorney. Legal services can help victims with practical matters, including seeking protective orders, custody and child support issues, breaking a lease to regain safety, and so forth. 

NEED: Looking at typical expenses under the existing special OVW grant program, the average cost is $163,265 per lawyer, which includes a legal aid-level salary and all overhead and related expenses (space, computer, benefits, required annual training, etc.). If every state funded a mere 100 additional victim attorneys, and the territories another 100 combined, that would total an additional$832.6 million.

Very few tribes currently operate legal services programs, but where they exist, they have been very successful and report a high demand for services. Funding an additional 100 tribal legal assistance lawyers for victims would cost $163 million

Services for victims of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation

Shelters. Many elder victims of crime are abused or exploited by family members, caregivers, or predators. As a result, many of them need shelter services to ensure their safety and prevent homelessness. To date, approximately a dozen senior shelters have been created. 

NEED: Elder abuse shelters are needed all across the country. They can be free-standing or as part of existing care facilities with an additional staff position dedicated to the needs of abused or exploited elders. The costs for such a program can range from $100,000 to $500,000 per year.  Therefore, to establish a minimum of two such shelters per state would cost between $5 million and $25 million.  

Specialized Legal Assistance.  Specialized attorneys can assist elder victims with restraining orders, recovering misappropriated funds and property, contesting evictions, advocating for restitution, and providing other legal assistance. 

NEED: There are currently approximately 1,000 legal services providers nationwide that are funded by the Older Americans Act. However, they are unable to meet the demand for services. As noted above, the median costs for an attorney are $163,265 per lawyer, which includes a legal aid-level salary and all overhead and related expenses (space, computer, benefits, required annual training, etc.) To fund an additional 500 attorneys would be $81.6 million.

Victim advocates.  Specialized victim advocates in prosecutor’s offices that can provide a sensitive and trained response to victims of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are needed nationwide. These advocates can assist victims seek restitution and victim compensation, intercede or advocate with creditors and public benefits offices, convene or participate in multidisciplinary teams, and provide other outreach.

NEED:  Very few prosecutors’ offices have a special victim advocate for elder victims. (For example, only 14 of 40 prosecutor-based programs in California have specialized services for older adults.) If each of these positions, for salary and benefits plus associated costs is $50,000, then the cost to fund 20 of these positions in every state, and 20 across the territories, would cost approximately$51 million. 

Services for the survivors of homicide victims are rarely funded but sorely needed, for surviving spouses, children, and other affected family members and partners. Needed services include criminal justice advocacy, assistance in applying for victim compensation, funding to travel to trials that are out of state, legal assistance, financial counseling if the murdered victim was the breadwinner, mental health counseling or other therapy, and similar services. 

NEED: While precise calculations are not available, one state provides an illustration of the cost. Iowa is the rare state that has committed to supporting regional services for survivors of homicide and other violent crimes. In FY 2014, the state used $393,441 in federal grant funds to support 4 regional programs for survivors of homicide and other violent crimes. Assuming the creation of a minimum of 4 such programs per state and one per territory/DC, meeting this need would cost approximately $20 million.

Creating 25 such programs for tribal victims would cost approximately $2.5 million.

Victim services in prosecutor offices. Every prosecutor’s office should have at least one victim assistant, who can link victims to community services, assist them in filing an application for victim compensation, provide notice of events and proceedings, assist victims in exercising their rights to make an impact statement or request restitution, and provide additional support.

NEED: While many states already use VOCA funds for victim assistants in prosecutor’s offices, many of those offices do not yet have a victim assistant position. To fill this gap would require an additional 1,000 positions. At a total funding of $50,000 per position (salary, benefits, payroll taxes, etc.) the total funding need is $50 million

Nearly 200 Indian tribes operate criminal courts.  Placing a victim assistant in each tribal prosecutor’s office would cost $10 million

Improving LGBT victim access to mainstream services. Victims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are at increased risk of victimization, but mainstream service providers are not always equipped to provide effective outreach and services.

NEED: One state has funded five sites to improve access to services for LBGTQ victims of crime and abuse, at a cost of $120,000 each. If all states funded five such expansions, and the territories each funded one, the total cost would be $30.5 million.

Innovative services for young victims, especially male victims of color. Young males of color suffer disproportionately high rates of victimization, yet are among the least likely to report crime or seek services. Innovative approaches are being developed to better respond to their needs, including Common Justice, a restorative justice program that provides participants with a respectful and effective means of accountability, an equitable and dignified avenue to healing, and the tools to break cycles of violence. 

NEED: To replicate this program in other cities would cost $1 million each. For even one program per state, the total cost would be $50 million.

Training for new victim advocates. Based on existing VOCA staffing levels, we can expect to recruit an additional 60,000 or more new full-time paid direct victim service staff. It is important to ensure that these new staff are well trained and qualified to provide direct services to crime victims experience crisis and trauma.  

NEED: Quality training for new victim advocates will require, at a minimum, $1,500 per staff, or to train the anticipated 60,000 new full time staff a total of at least $90 million.  

Other Needed Services Include:

Language access to services for victims with limited English proficiency. Approximately 9 percent of the U.S. population have limited English proficiency. Victims of crime and abuse must be able to access legal and supportive services, and for those with limited English proficiency, this means having access to interpreters or bilingual service providers. For a description of the legal obligation to provide such services, and the means to provide them, see “Ensuring Language Access to Immigrant Victims of Sexual Assault,” athttp://niwaplibrary.wcl.american.edu/language-access/training-materials-tools-and-best-practices/language-access-info-for-service-providers/2-LEP-MANUAL-ES.pdf.

Immigration assistance for victims. There is a great need for attorneys who can help victims apply for immigration relief, so that victims have access to U-Visas, T-Visas, VAWA self-petitions, and other forms of immigration relief.  

Police-based victim assistants. Police-based victim assistants are among the best-placed professionals who can link victims to important recovery resources, assist them in applying for crime victim compensation, and answer their basic questions about the system. Many more departments nationwide can use such a position, including tribal police departments. 

Improved access to services for victims with physical and mental disabilities. Persons with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to crime, including abuse by intimate partners and caregivers. 

Campus-based victim services. With colleges, universities, trade schools and others newly attuned to the problems of sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, assaults, hate crimes, and other crimes, many states would like to direct additional VOCA funding to those programs. 

 

Information compiled by the National Center for Victims of Crime. Questions or requests for additional information may be directed to Susan Howley, public policy director at the National Center, at showley@ncvc.org.

NTF OPPOSES the Collins Senate Bill, S. 534

February 24, 2015

Dear Senator, 

As the Steering Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (“NTF”), comprised of national leadership organizations advocating on behalf of sexual and domestic violence victims and women’s rights, we write in opposition to the Collins Senate bill, S.534, relating to the prohibition of funds to carry out the President’s 2014 immigration Executive action. In particular, we object to sections 2 and 3, as they harm victims of domestic and sexual violence and ignore their best interests as well as those of their children. 

We recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), which has, since it was first enacted, included critical protections for immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence. The proposed bill undermines protections from removal for victims of domestic and sexual violence and undercuts the spirit of VAWA. 

We strongly urge you to OPPOSE the bill, in particular because of the impact that the following sections will have on victims: 

Section 2. Prohibition on Funding for Certain Executive Actions Related to Immigration 

What it does: 

  • Among other things, the provision prevents the use of funds or fees for all of the November 20, 2014 Executive Action mandates by the president, including: (1) the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for young people who arrived in the United States as Children; and (2) stops the implementation of the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which provides protection for parents of U.S. citizen and Lawful Permanent Resident children. These programs grant immigrants who are not priorities for deportation some protection from removal, and the ability to contribute formally to our society. 
  • The provision prohibits any “substantially similar” policy changes to these memos in the future. 
  • Prohibits the use of funds or fees to “grant any Federal benefit” to any noncitizen pursuant to any of the policy changes in these memos. 
  • The provision reinstates the Secure Communities Program. 

Why this section harms victims of domestic and sexual violence: 

  • Increases Vulnerability of Immigrant Victims: It takes away the potential relief from (1) fear of deportation and (2) financial dependence on abusers. The DACA program has already helped a significant number of victims to gain independence from their abusers. 
  • Decreases Safety in our Communities: Victims associate reporting a crime with being deported because local law enforcement is closely entwined with ICE as dictated by the Secure Communities Program. As a result, victims are afraid of reporting crimes, and many violent crimes go unreported. 
  • Increases Likelihood of Deportation of Victims: Due to language and cultural barriers resulting in victims being arrested or convicted of domestic violence charges, victims are likely to be put in removal proceedings resulting from law enforcement entanglement with ICE in implementing Secure Communities. 

Section 3. Prohibition on Funding Certain Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities 

What it does: 

  • This provision prohibits ICE from implementing the new detention and deportation priorities memo set in the November 20, 2014 Executive Action memo regarding policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.
  • Prevents funding to support implementation, administration, enforcement, or carrying out of any policy that does not prioritize enforcement against those with domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse convictions. Although this memo seems to set new priorities from those in place, the changes are minimal. In particular, it removes the guidance provided in the November 20, 2014 memo, which recognizes that immigrant victims of domestic violence may themselves be convicted of domestic violence. Eliminates DHS prosecutorial discretion to consider the needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence, including the trauma they have experienced, in prioritizing enforcement activities. 

How it affects victims of domestic and sexual violence: 

  • Victims’ Dependence on Perpetrator: Victims of domestic violence often do not seek help when they know that the consequences to the perpetrator (for example, a spouse or parent, or perhaps other family member) may result in the perpetrator’s deportation. This takes place due to their financial dependence, and even close relationship to the perpetrator. As a result, victims will be discouraged from seeking help and endure abuse, and communities will be less safe by reducing reporting and prosecution of crimes. 
  • Victims are Often Wrongfully Convicted for Domestic Violence Crimes: Immigrant victims are vulnerable to being arrested and prosecuted for domestic violence, even when they are not the primary perpetrator of violence in the relationship. This frequently happens due to language and cultural barriers. Often, victims are desperate to be released and reunited with their children upon arrest and/or during trial. These factors–combined with poor legal counsel, particularly about the immigration consequences of criminal pleas and convictions—have in the past and will likely continue to lead to deportation of wrongly accused victims who may have pled to or have been unfairly convicted of domestic violence charges. 
  • No Significant Changes to the President’s Priorities Except for Discretion for Victims: The vast majority of sexual abuse, child exploitation and domestic violence convictions already fall within the highest priorities for enforcement; this amendment removes DHS discretion to consider the needs of victims. 

We strongly urge members to prioritize the needs of immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence, and oppose the Collins bill for the above-stated reasons. These recommendations are endorsed by the Immigration subcommittee and the steering committee of the National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, representing hundreds of victim advocacy organizations across the country. 

Please click here to download a copy of the opposition letter. 

If you have any questions, please contact us for further information through Grace Huang, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence at grace@wscadv.org, or (206) 389-2515 x 209, or Andrea Carcamo, Casa de Esperanza, at acarcamo@casadeesperanza.org or (703)942-5582. 

NTF letter to Congress in opposition to the Aderholt and DeSantis amendments

 

January 12, 2015 

Dear Representative, 

As the Steering Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (“NTF”), comprised of national leadership organizations advocating on behalf of sexual and domestic violence victims and women’s rights , we write in opposition to the Aderholt and DeSantis amendments to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. These amendments are overly broad, sweep large numbers of victims into their scope and ignore the best interests of victims and their children. 

We recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), which has, since it was first enacted, included critical protections for immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence. The proposed amendments serve to undermine protections from removal for victims of domestic and sexual violence and undercut the spirit of VAWA. 

We strongly urge you to vote NO on the following amendments: 

DeSantis Amendment 

What it does: 

  • This amendment prevents ICE from implementing the new detention and deportation
    priorities set in the November 20, 2014 Executive Action memo regarding Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants by preventing its implementation.
  • This amendment disallows funding to support implementation, administration, enforcement, or carrying out of any policy that does not prioritize enforcement against those with domestic violence, and sexual abuse, and child abuse convictions. In particular, the November 20th guidance recognizes that immigrant victims of domestic violence may be convicted of violence themselves, and the amendment removes DHS discretion to consider the facts underlying the conviction. 

How it affects victims of domestic and sexual violence: 

  • Victims of domestic violence often do not seek help when they know that the consequences to the perpetrator (for example, a spouse or parent, or perhaps other family member) may result in the perpetrator’s deportation. This often takes place due to their financial dependence, and even close relationship to the perpetrator. As a result, this amendment will discourage victims from seeking help, reducing reporting and prosecution of crimes, creating communities that are less safe and in which victims are more likely to endure abuse. 
  • Immigrant victims are vulnerable to being arrested and prosecuted for domestic violence, even when they are not the primary perpetrator of violence in the relationship. This frequently happens due to language and cultural barriers. Often, victims are desperate to be released and reunited with their children upon arrest and/or during trial. These factors–combined with poor legal counsel, particularly about the immigration consequences of criminal pleas and convictions—have in the past and will likely continue to lead to deportation of wrongly accused victims who may have pled to or been unfairly convicted of domestic violence charges. 
  • The vast majority of sexual abuse, child exploitation and domestic violence convictions already fall within the highest priorities for enforcement; this amendment removes DHS discretion to consider the needs of victims.

Aderholt Amendment

What it does:

  • Among other things, the amendment prevents the use of funds or fees for all of the
    November 20, 2014 Executive Action mandates by the president, including the renewal and continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for young people who arrived in the United States as children, and hinders the ability to implement the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which provides protection for parents of U.S. citizen and Legal Permanent Resident children. These programs grant immigrants who are not priorities for removal some protection from removal. 
  • The amendment also prevents the use of “funds or fees” to carry out prior DHS guidance, including ICE Director Morton’s prosecutorial discretion memos (2011), USCIS referrals of Notices To Appear (2011), ICE response to Secure Communities Task Force (Apr. 2012), detainers (Dec. 2012), and adjustment of status under visa waiver program (Nov. 2013). 
  • The amendment prohibits any “substantially similar” policy changes to these memos in the future. 
  • The amendment also prohibits the use of funds or fees to “grant any Federal benefit” to any noncitizen pursuant to any of the policy changes in these memos. 
  • The amendment reinstates the Secure Communities Program.

Impact on victims of domestic and sexual violence: 

  • This amendment increases the vulnerability to abuse for immigrants by increasing: (1) fear of deportation and (2) financial dependence on abusers. 
  • Eliminates DHS prosecutorial discretion to consider the needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence, including the trauma they have experienced, in prioritizing enforcement activities. 
  • Increases victims fear of deportation as a consequence of reporting crimes committed against them as a result of local law enforcement entanglement with ICE in implementing the Secure Communities Program. As a result, many violent crimes will go unreported.

We strongly urge members to prioritize the needs of immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence, and reject these amendments. These recommendations are endorsed by the Immigration subcommittee and the steering committee of the National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, including The Asian Institute on Gender Based Violence, ASISTA Immigration Assistance, Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities, Futures Without Violence, National Immigrant Justice Center, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

If you have any questions, please contact us for further information through Grace Huang, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence at grace@wscadv.org, or (206) 389-2515 x 209, or Andrea Carcamo, Casa de Esperanza, at acarcamo@casadeesperanza.org or (703)942-5582. 

NTF letter supporting Executive Action for immigrant survivors

December 9, 2014

Dear Senator,

The Steering Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (“NTF”), comprised of national leadership organizations advocating on behalf of sexual and domestic violence victims and women’s rights, writes in support of President Obama’s Executive action to defer the removal of the parents of U.S. Citizen and Legal Permanent Resident children, and to expand the deferred action program for non-citizens who entered the United States as children. These Executive actions offer a needed opportunity to remove obstacles to immigrant survivors’ access to safety and justice, by reducing their vulnerabilities to abuse and exploitation due to fear of deportation.

This fall we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), which has, since it was first enacted, included critical protections for immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence. Over the last two decades, victims have benefited from executive action deferring removal in cases involving victims protected by VAWA. Executive actions under both Republican and Democratic administrations have enhanced their safety and ability to recover from abuse. These include protections for spouses and children of abusive U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, with approved petitions under the Violence Against Women Act, who are awaiting the availability of immigrant visas. In addition, non-citizens eligible for crime-victim visas based on certification from criminal legal system officials have benefited from executive branch deferral from removal, enhancing victims’ ability to participate in holding offenders accountable. For these reasons, we support the authority of the Executive branch to defer the removal of classes of very vulnerable non-citizens.

We strongly urge members to prioritize the needs of immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, trafficking, and child abuse and support President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents, and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us for further information through Grace Huang atgrace@wscadv.org, or (206) 389-2515 x 209.

Sincerely,

The member organizations of
The National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
www.4vawa.org 

Join us in tweeting a message of support to “Jackie” and all victims of rape.

#IbelieveJackie          #NTFstandswithJackie

1 in 5 women are survivors of campus sexual violence.  Someone in your life has been a victim of rape on a college campus. You may know who that is—or that person may have never told you, because they are afraid of being blamed for having done something to deserve the crime committed against them.

Research shows that the trauma of rape has an adverse effect on victims’ memories of sexual trauma. The research of Dr. Rebecca Campbell of Michigan State University shows that rape victims who survive trauma can often have difficulty consolidating the details of the experience and manifest discrepancies in their recounting of what happened to them. The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence therefore does not take minor discrepancies in certain details of “Jackie’s” story as any reason to begin doubting that she experienced horrific sexual violence by a number of perpetrators.

No victim of rape should be afraid to seek help or seek justice. The UVA story, as reported in Rolling Stone was shocking to many—but not to those who work with sexual assault survivors. Most victims of rape fear reporting the crime because they are afraid that no one will believe them. Too many victims of rape suffer debilitating PTSD and depression afterwards that makes them afraid to trust others with such a terribly personal, traumatically dehumanizing story. “Jackie” told her story to Rolling Stone and now, due to Rolling Stone’s poor journalistic judgment, she has been put on trial in the media, instead of her rapists being put on trial in a court of law.

Whatever mistakes Rolling Stone made in reporting the story of rape at UVA, “Jackie” should not have to pay the price. “Jackie” has already suffered the trauma of rape. Her suitemate at the time of the incident wrote a public letter saying “Jackie’s” story is not a hoax: http://www.cavalierdaily.com/m/blog/on-sexual-assault-letters-from-the-community/2014/12/a-letter-from-a-friend-jackies-story-is-not-a-hoax

ACTION ITEM:  Tweet your support for “Jackie” and all victims of rape! 

Join us in tweeting a message of support to “Jackie” and all victims of  rape:

#IbelieveJackie          #NTFstandswithJackie

 

###

For more information, fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates please to continue to visit 4vawa.org.

Follow us on Twitter at @NTFVAWA and “like” our Facebook page.

If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mail list, send names and contact information including email to ntfvawaalerts@icasa.org

NTF Opposes Congressman Yoho's amendment to H.R.5759

December 3, 2014

 

Dear Representative,

The Steering Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (“NTF”), comprised of national leadership organizations advocating on behalf of sexual and domestic violence victims and women’s rights, writes in opposition to Congressman Yoho’s amendment to H.R. 5759, which seriously limits Executive Branch authority to defer the removal of various classes of non-citizens. The amendment broadly sweeps large numbers of victims into its scope and ignores the best interests of victims and their children.

This fall we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), which has, since it was first enacted, included critical protections for immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence. Congressman Yoho’s amendment undermines protections from removal for victims of domestic and sexual violence, dating violence, stalking, trafficking, and child abuse, and undermines the purpose and spirit of VAWA.

For example, over the last twenty years, victims have benefited from executive action deferring removal, enhancing their safety and ability to recover from abuse, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. These include spouses and children of abusive U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, with approved petitions under the Violence Against Women Act, who are awaiting the availability of immigrant visas. In addition, non-citizens eligible for crime-victim visas based on certification from criminal legal system officials have benefited from executive branch deferral from removal, enhancing victims’ ability to participate in holding offenders accountable. For these reasons, we oppose the broad restrictions on executive action deferring removal of classes of non-citizens included in Congressman Yoho’s amendments to H.R. 5759.

We strongly urge members to prioritize the needs of immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, trafficking, and child abuse, and reject these amendments. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us for further information through Grace Huang at grace@wscadv.org, or (206) 389-2515 x 209.

Sincerely,
The member organizations of The National
Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

NTF calls for hearings/Hill action re: NFL and Survivor's Needs

December 1, 2014

 

Dear Senator:

We write as members of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence -- domestic and sexual violence advocates, faith-based and law enforcement groups, civil, human, and women's rights organizations who represent millions of survivors of sexual and domestic violence and stalking, and their advocates – with both requests and reflections following two solid months of media coverage of a number of high profile domestic and sexual violence incidents.

Twenty years of work to implement and improve the Violence Against Women Act has left us well positioned to share the successes and challenges that emerged as we responded to the unprecedented surge in demand for services that followed the revelation of the second NFL tape involving Ray Rice and then fiancée, Janay Palmer. Thus, we write to request that the Congress hold hearings in furtherance of the national discussion that has begun around the issues of sexual and domestic violence, their impact on the economy, the economic lives of survivors, and the necessity for workplace and other policies that address the needs of battered and abused people and their families. Additionally, we want to express our appreciation to the many members of Congress who have called for the NFL to be held accountable, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue on this issue.

An immediate consequence of the intense national focus on the NFL is increased awareness in American society at large of the profound impact of domestic and sexual violence in our lives in general and more specifically, in the workplace. As the NFL continues to institute reforms, we wish to point out that the NFL is but one employer. Its workforce – at the player level – is disproportionately male. Domestic and sexual violence as they manifest inside and outside the workplace, however, are still experiences that are overwhelming borne by women (85% of survivors are women). Holding timely hearings would allow a review of NFL’s experience to gain insight into how employers who are not adequately prepared can founder in responding to the workplace impact of sexual and domestic violence.

We also call upon Congress to begin work on a federal response to the unacceptably high level of survivor job loss – as high as 50% among survivors of sexual or domestic violence -- that occurs when ill prepared employers are reactive rather than proactive. Before one more survivor is asked why they stayed, Congress must make it possible for them to decide whether they wish to.

In the near term, we request two things:

  1. The holding of hearings as soon as is practicable to determine:
    • The status/progress of the NFL matter;
    • How to strengthen the economy and encourage employers to be more proactive regarding domestic and sexual violence and workplace while simultaneously increasing productivity and safety in workplace; and
    • Best practices from employers and advocates, alike with respect to improving economic security for survivors, and accountability for perpetrators
  2. The swiftest possible introduction, mark-up and passage of legislation designed to ensure that survivors have access to the same baseline of workplace, and broader economic protections regardless of where they live.

As it stands, some survivors have access to paid leave if they need time off because they need to attend court, see a counselor, or attend to injuries. Others have access to unemployment insurance if they need to leave their jobs because of the violence. Still others have job security afforded by laws that ban the firing of survivors because they are survivors. Though all of these measures are needed to ensure that survivors have the strongest set of options for moving forward, access to these proven remedies varies drastically according to where survivors live. It’s time to afford all survivors the protections they need regardless of zip code.

We look forward to working with our public officials and private employers in the effort to enact policies, enforce the laws and ensure safety and economic stability for all survivors.

Sincerely,

Legal Momentum
Chair, Subcommittee on Economic Issues
Nati’l Task Force to End Sexual & Domestic Viol. Contact: Lisalyn R. Jacobs 202.486.5280 ljacobs@legalmomentum.org

 

 

National Organizations 

 

A Window Between Worlds
Alliance for a Just Society
American Association of University Women
American Federation of Government Employees: District 11 (OR. ID. WA. CO, AK, MT, UT, WY

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center
Boat People SOS
Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Communication Workers of America
Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project
Exodus, Inc.
General Federation of Women’s Clubs 

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc. 
Institute for Family Violence Studies
Institute for Science and Human Value
Legal Momentum
Mothers of Lost Children
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Conference of Puerto Rican Women
National Council of Jewish Women
National Crittenton Foundation
National Organization of Women
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

National Women’s Political Caucus
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
University of Miami Human Rights Clinic
Women of Color Network

Wider Opportunities for Women
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
YWCA USA 

 

State & Local Organizations 

 

Alaska
NOW: Alaska 

Arizona 
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
Time Out Inc.

Arkansas 
Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Delta Crisis Center
Serenity Inc.

California 
Asian Pacific Women’s Center
Doves of Big Bear Valley
House of Ruth Inc.
Humboldt County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council

NOW: Contra Costa
NOW: Pacific Shore
One SAFE Place
Option House
Shelter from the Storm

Unfolding Flowers 

Colorado 
A Zen Life
Alternatives to Violence, Inc.
Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program

Help for Abused Partners
RESPONSE
SafeHouse Denver
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence 

Connecticut
BH Care, Inc.
CT-ALIVE 
KK Community Rebuilding 
Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis 

District of Columbia 
D.C. Rape Crisis Center 

Florida 
Christians Against Domestic Violence
Healing Grace
NOW: Brevard Chapter
NOW: Jacksonville 

NOW: Florida
Women’s Production Network
 

Georgia 
The Blood Healing Services 
Circle of Hope
Columbus Alliance for Battered Women, Inc. d/b/a Hope Harbour 
Forsyth County Family Haven
Hospitality House, Inc. 
North Georgia Counseling Education Center 
Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center 
Polk County Women's Shelter 
Women Watch Afrika, Inc.

Hawaii 
Women Helping Women 

Idaho 
The Advocates
Idaho Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

Illinois 
A Safe Place
Crisis Center for South Suburbia
Christian Community Health Center
Family Resources
Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Mutual Ground, Inc.
NOW: Illinois
NOW: Quad Cities (also listed under IA)

Rape Victim Advocates 

Indiana 
Crisis Connection, Inc. 
Indy Feminists
Latino Coalition Against Domestic & Social Violence

Noble House Ministries Inc. 

Iowa 
Center for Creative Justice
Crisis Intervention Services
Domestic Violence Intervention Program

Family Resources
Franciscan Peace Center
NOW: Quad Cities (also listed under IL) 

Kansas 
Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas 

Kentucky
Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence 
Spring Haven Domestic Violence Program 

Maine 
Family Crisis Services 

Maryland 
NOW: Maryland
SMR Counseling Services 

Massachusetts 
Casa Myrna Vasquez
Jane Doe Inc.
Lesley University Women’s Center
Pathways for Change, Inc. 

Michigan 
EGV Teams Counseling
HAVEN
NOW: Wayne County

Shelter Inc.
The Venus Foundation 

Minnesota 
Bluff Country Family Resources
CADA of Waseca/Le Sueur County
NOW: Minnesota
Someplace Safe

Mississippi 
MS Coalition Against Sexual Assault  

Missouri 
A Safe Place
Audrain County Crisis Intervention Services
Agape House Inc. of Mountain View
Christos House Inc.
NOW: Columbia
Safe Connections

The Victim Center 

Nebraska 
Center for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Survivors 

New Hampshire 
New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence 

New Jersey 
Manavi
My Sisters Lighthouse
New Jersey Assoc. on Correction
New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women

NOW: Middlesex County
NOW: Morris County
NOW: New Jersey
NOW: Northern New Jersey
NOW: South Jersey 

New Mexico 
Alternatives to Violence
Family Crisis Center
Grammy’s House
New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence

New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
NOW: Albuquerque
NOW: New Mexico
NOW: Santa Fe
Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico S.A.F.E. House

New York 
Advocacy Center
Hope’s Door
The Fortune Society
NOW: East End
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
The Safe Center LI, Inc.
Women and Work
VCS Inc.
Violence Intervention Program 

North Carolina 
Be Healthy Ministries
Durham Crisis Response Center
Family Services Inc.
Family Services of Davidson County, Inc. 

Guilford County Family Justice Center 
Mending Hearts
NOW: Fayetteville
NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault
REACH of Cherokee County, Inc.
Sarah’s Refuge Inc.
The Sparrow’s House of Yadkin 

Ohio 
ACTION OHIO Coalition For Battered Women
Alternatives to Violence Center
Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
Community Services of Stark Co.
Ohio Guidestone/Harbor House
Haven of Hope
Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence
Project Women
Rape Crisis Domestic Violence Safe Haven
SAAFE Center
Southern Ohio Sexual assault Treatment Center
Tri-County Help Center, Inc. (Belmont/Harrison/Monroe Counties)
Turning Point 

Oklahoma 
Safenet Services Domestic Violence Shelter
United Nations Association of Oklahoma City 

Oregon 
Bradley Angle
Community Works
Project DOVE
Tillamook County Women's Resource Center

Women’s Safety & Resource Center 

Pennsylvania
Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, Inc.

KenCrest
NOW: First Pittsburgh 
NOW: Ni-ta-nee
PathWays PA
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
Roses Ministry
Survivors, Inc. 

Women's Center of Montgomery County 
Women’s Law Project 
Women’s Resource Center 

South Dakota 
South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence 

Tennessee 
22.5 Degrees
CEASE Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Inc.

Texas 
Austin/Travis County Family Violence Task Force
Crisis Center of the Plains
Daya Inc. 
Domestic Violence Protection, Inc.
Humboldt County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council

NOW:  South Central Region
No More
Radio
SafePlace
Women’s Center of Brazoria County

Rhode Island 
NOW: Rhode Island 

Vermont 
Project Against Violent Encounters
Safeline Inc.
Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence 

Virginia 
Beth El House
Charlottesville/Blue Ridge AAF
NOW: Charlottesville
NOW: Northern Virginia
York-Poquoson Victim-Witness Assistance Program 

Washington 
Christian Coalition for Safe Families
King County Re-entry Program 
McCready Remodeling
Pierce County Commission Against Domestic Violence
Truth Speaks
Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs 
Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence 
Women of Vision 

West Virginia 
Tug Valley Recovery Shelter
West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services 

Wisconsin 

Community Referral Agency (Polk, Barron Burnett Counties) Forge Inc.

University of Wisconsin, Madison: Women’s Resource Center

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault 

Wyoming 
SAFE Project 

Trial Coalitions/Programs  
Seven Dancers Coalition 
Tohono O'odham Nation Domestic Violence Program 

 

 

Violence Against Women is Never A Game

Congress must ensure that persons making online threats of assault, sexual violence and death are held accountable. 

WE NEED YOUR STORIES!!!

#stalkingisnogame

October 29, 2014 – please distribute widely!

Trigger warning: rape, murder, violence; this alert contains disturbing and offensive language

On October 15, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, nationally known for her efforts to call out violence against women in online gaming, was forced to cancel a speaking appearance at Utah State University when the school received an anonymous email threatening to carry out "the deadliest shooting in American history”[i] if the event was not cancelled. The email was only one of a long history of online threats and harassment directed at Sarkeesian. She, like other activists against online gender-based violence, has been forced to move out of her home. The FBI only recently took on her case; they, like many other law enforcement agencies, face many barriers to effectively investigating online threats of sexual and physical violence, and often, cyberviolence/online stalking is not a priority.

Congress must act to ensure that our laws keep pace with growing online violence and to ensure law enforcement has access to the tools necessary to enforce those laws. We will ask Congress to hold a hearing on cyberviolence/online stalking – we need your stories!

Background: Sarkeesian and two female video game developers, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu are at the center of “Gamergate”, a culture war within the video game community. A tiny subset of video game fans are attacking people who critique the misogynistic content of many video games; these trolls claim to be policing journalistic ethics by threatening Sarkeesian, Quinn and Wu with rape, torture and death.[ii]  The following is just one of many threats aimed at Sarkeesian: “I’m going to kill your parents . . . I’ve seen their house [her parents’ address]. . . I’m going to go to your apartment at [her home address]. . . and rape you to death. After I’m done, I’ll ram a tire iron up your c%^t”.[iii] These women, and many, many more in this country, deal with threats like this every day. Trolls have hacked their computers and posted personal information and nude photos online. They have been forced out of their homes and into hiding.

Law Enforcement’s Response: In many jurisdictions, law enforcement does not have the expertise required to investigate cases of online violence. Many of the people perpetrating such violence are able to electronically hide their tracks, requiring law enforcement to invest much time and effort into investigating these cyberstalking incidents. Furthermore, the penalties for cyberstalking are laughable. As Tim Ryan, a former FBI investigator puts it, “Spending a month getting subpoenas and doing wiretaps for a case where the sentence is six months of probation just doesn’t make sense”.[iv] Another expert adds, “Our legal system hasn’t quite caught up with technology”.[v]

Cyberstalking victimization is not confined to celebrities and the gaming world; anyone who uses the Internet can be a target. We can use Gamergate to start a conversation, but we need to illustrate the pervasive nature of cyberstalking in our culture. We are asking Congress to hold hearings on cyber violence/online stalking, and we need stories from constituents to show Congress how important this issue is. Share your story with us so we can prove the magnitude of the problem!

ACTION!! SHARE YOUR STORIES WITH US!!!  EMAIL US ATntfvawa@gmail.com.  PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR STATE BUT NO OTHER IDENTIFYING INFORMATION!

Have you or someone you know been the target of virulent online/electronic harassment and/or threats? How has that impacted you and/or the target? Did you contact law enforcement and, if so, what was their response?  Your stories are important!  

If you are a member of law enforcement, have you tried but been unable to investigate cyberviolence/online stalking?  What were the barriers you faced?  Your stories are important!

Your stories will be kept anonymous.  The only identifying information we will use is your state, because every legislator needs to know this is happening to his/her constituents!

SOCIAL MEDIA!!!  POST THIS ALERT ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR DISCUSS GAMERGATE ONLINE!

#trollslose

#stalkingisnogame

#stopcyberviolence

 

 [i] Goodwin, A. (2014).  “Women are being driven offline”: Feminist Anita Sarkeesian terrorized for critique of video 

games.  Democracy Now.  Retrieved from http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2014/10/20.

[ii] Wagner, K. (2014).  The future of the culture wars is here, and it’s Gamergate.  Deadspin.  Retrieved fromhttp://dead

spin.com/the-future-of-the-culture-wars-is-here-and-its-gamerga-1646145844.

[iii] Beusman, C. (2014).   Misogynistic trolls drive feminist video game critic from her home.  Jezebel.  Retrieved from

http://jezebel.com/misogynistic-trolls-drive-feminist-video-game-critic-fr-1627923562.

[iv] Hess, A. (2014).  A former FBI agent on why it is so hard to prosecute Gamergate trolls.  Slate.  Retrieved from http

://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/10/17/gamergate_threats_why_it_s_so_hard_to_prosecute_the_peopl

e_targeting_zoe.html?wpsrc=fol_tw.

[v] Ortutay, B. (2014, October 22).  Survey: Harassment a common part of online life.  Washington Post.  Retrieved

from http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/survey-harassment-a-common-part-of-online-

life/2014/10/22/497f7330-59f4-11e4-9d6c-756a229d8b18_story.html.

Protect victims of dating violence and stalking from gun violence

October, 2014 – please forward widely

Current federal firearms laws do not protect all domestic violence victims.  We are in the midst of a culture shift.  Millenials, coming of age today, are getting married later in life than earlier generations.  74% of 20-somethings are unmarried, compared to 32% in 1960.[1]  Current federal firearms laws do not protect these young people.  We must insist Congress address this omission and ban people who have committed dating violence or stalking from owning firearms.

S. 1290, S. 2676, and H.R. 4906, bills introduced by Senators Klobuchar and Blumenthal and Representative Capps respectively, would close gaps in current law and ensure victims of dating violence and stalking are protected from firearms violence. Urge your Senators and Representatives to support these life-saving bills. Congress is back home until the elections. Call your Senators’ and Representative’s DC and district offices and let them know it should not matter whether or not you are married to an offender—federal law should protect ALL victims, including victims of dating violence and stalking.

Background: In 1996, Congress passed the Lautenberg Amendment, prohibiting people convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence from owning firearms.[2]  Legislators understood that many violent felony-level crimes involving domestic violence are ultimately pled down to misdemeanors—as with the recent case involving football star Ray Rice. The law already prohibited gun ownership by felons, and Congress expanded that ban to ensure abusers could not use plea bargains to evade the consequences of their actions.

Dating Violence: The federal domestic violence firearms ban does not apply to offenders who harm their dating partners.[3]  Under current federal law, the abuser who punches, strangles or beats a dating partner is still legally able to purchase firearms even if convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  This is unconscionable!  The law must protect ALL victims of domestic violence, regardless of their marital status!

This is a serious gap in federal law – we demand Congress fix this!

  • A woman whose partner owns a firearm is five times more likely to be killed than a woman whose partner does not own a firearm.[4] 
  • A majority of intimate partner homicide victims are killed with firearms.[5]

We must tell our legislators the current definition of ‘intimate partner’ is woefully out of date and insist they expand the definition to include former and current dating partners.

Stalking: Federal law also fails to keep guns out of the hands of persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of stalking.  The Cardinals football team just signed Chris Rainey, who pled guilty to a misdemeanor stalking charge.[6]  Rainey sent threatening messages to his ex-girlfriend, telling her, “Time to die, bitch”.[7]  Despite his misdemeanor stalking conviction (he pled down from a felony charge), Rainey, who explicitly threatened his girlfriend’s life, can legally purchase a firearm.  Stalking is legally defined as conduct pursued “to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate, or cause substantial emotional distress”.[8] Clearly, stalking is a very serious crime, but federal law fails to keep guns out of the hands of convicted offenders like Chris Rainey.

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have been stalked.[9]
  • 76% of women killed by intimate partners were stalked before being murdered.[10]

Contact your Senators and House member to support S. 1290, S. 2676, and H.R. 4906, bills introduced by Senators Klobuchar and Blumenthal and Representative Capps.

 

IT’S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH.  BE SURE YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVE ARE AWARE - EDUCATE THEM AND ASK THEM TO COSPONSOR THESE BILLS!!

 

ACTION: CALL OR EMAIL YOUR SENATORS & TELL THEM:

"We support S.1290 and S. 2676, because keeping guns out of the hands of abusers and stalkers is key to saving lives.  Dating partners need to have the same protections as other intimate partners!  Stalking is a key indicator of lethality.  Lives are at stake - the sooner Congress acts, the fewer people will die!"

ACTION!! CALL OR EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE & TELL HER/HIM:

“We support H.R. 4906, because keeping guns out of the hands of abusers and stalkers is key to saving lives.  Dating partners need have the same protections as other intimate partners!  Stalking is a key indicator of lethality.  Lives are at stake - the more quickly Congress acts, the fewer people will die!” 

Tell your friends, family and loved ones to call and email too!

WE NEED TO FLOOD CONGRESSIONAL OFFICES WITH CALLS AND EMAILS!

ACTION!! MEET WITH YOUR MEMBERS OR THEIR STAFF AND EXPLAIN WHY PROTECTING PEOPLE FROM GUN VIOLENCE IS IMPORTANT TO YOU:

Your Members of Congress must understand that this issue impacts their state and their constituents.  All victims of domestic violence and stalking need protection from gun violence.  These bills will save lives!

ACTION!!  ATTEND CAMPAIGN EVENTS AND ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS:

Ask your Senators and House member, in public forums or letters to the editor, whether or not they will support bills such as S. 1290 and S. 2676 (Senate race)/H.R. 4906 (House race) to keep guns out of the hands of violent offenders.

Further Reading:

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

[1] Pew Research (2010).  The decline of marriage and rise of the new families.  Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtre

nds.org/2010/11/18/the-decline-of-marriage-and-rise-of-new-families/.

[2] 18 U.S.C. 92(g(9))

[3] 18 U.S.C. 921(33)

[4] John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research (2003).  Firearms and intimate partner violence.  Retrieved from

www.jhsph.ed/gunpolicy/IPV_firearms.pdf.

[5] Bridges, F. S., Tatum, K. M., & Kunselman, J. C. (2008).  Domestic violence statutes and rates of intimate partner

and family homicide: A research note.  Criminal Justice Policy Review, 19(1), 117-130.

[6] Smith, M. D. (2014).  Cardinals sign Chris Rainey, whom Steelers cut over domestic violence allegation.  Retrieved

from http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/09/09/cardinals-sign-chris-rainey-whom-steelers-cut-over-

domestic-violence-allegation/.

[7] ESPN (2010).  Chris Rainey faces felony stalking charges.  Retrieved from http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story

?id=5570905.

[8] 8 U.S.C. 2261A (2(A))

[9] Fox, J. A., & Zawitz, M. W. (2004). Homicide trends in the United States’ US Department of Justice. Office of Justice

Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.  Retrieved from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/homtrnd.htm

[10] McFarlane, J. M., Campbell, J. C., Wilt, S., Sachs, C. J., Ulrich, Y. & Xu, X. (1999).  Stalking and intimate partner

femicide.  Homicide Studies, 3(4), 300-316.

Support S. 1290

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, supports S. 1290, which addresses the intersection of stalking, dating violence, and firearms violence. Current federal firearms law protects only victims of domestic violence from firearms violence. Victims of the equally dangerous crimes of stalking and dating violence lack those same protections.  

See below for the NRA's most recent alert and our response.

Support the passage of S. 1290.

International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA)

April 22, 2014

ACTION NEEDED ON INTERNATIONAL VAWA – CALLING FOR BI-PARTISAN SENATE SPONSORS

Worldwide violence against women around the world is a horrific and pervasive human rights crisis that demands our response. Far too many women and girls in every country fall prey to exploitation, are attacked as they attend school, endure violence in the home, or are raped as a weapon of terrorism, occupation and war.  At least one out of every three women globally will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime—with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries. 

On November 21, 2013, The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA),  H.R.3571, was re-introduced in the House by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), with bipartisan support from Reps. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). The House bill has 56 sponsors.  Now we need everyone’s help to encourage the Senate to do the same and re-introduce a bipartisan IVAWA.   

IVAWA calls for a comprehensive U.S. response to end violence against women and girls globally by:

  • Directing the Department of State and USAID to develop a comprehensive multi-sectoral strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence;
  • Integrating efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls as part of U.S. foreign assistance programs including health, education, economic growth, legal reform, political participation, social norm change, humanitarian assistance, and foreign security training, among others;
  • Supporting overseas non-governmental and community-based organizations working to end violence against women and girls; and,
  • Ensuring uniform data collection, reporting and accountability measures are in place to track investments in programs that address gender-based violence. 

Resources: IVAWA Toolkit  

www.aiusa.org/ivawa

www.futureswithoutviolence.org/section/ivawa
https://my.care.org/site/SPageNavigator/ADV_IVAWA_2014.html

www.womenthrive.org/ivawa-thanks

 

Please urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor and pass IVAWA today!  Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (RIL), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have already committed to lead on IVAWA.  But they need Republican partners tojoin the effort and become original cosponsors of the bill so that our efforts, in the spirit of VAWA,  are truly bi-partisan 

Suggested Phone Script:

You can reach the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121.

1.)             Telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member. Ask to speak with the aide who handles women’s issues or foreign affairs issues.

2.)             After identifying yourself as a constituent, tell the staffer that you would like to leave a brief message. 

“Please tell Representative/Senator ____________ that I support the International Violence Against Women Act.”

3.)             Ask for the position of your Member of Congress on the bill.  If they are a co-sponsor, thank them for their support and urge them to help pass IVAWA in 2013.

4.)             If they are not a  cosponsor, you can say: 

“Please urge the Representative/Senator ____________ to cosponsor the bill and help pass IVAWA in 2014.”

5.)             And add:

“I support the bill because:

  • Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation occurring globally.
  • An estimated one in every three women globally will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. 
  • The International Violence Against Women Act supports measures to prevent violence, protect survivors and bring perpetrators to justice. 

Check to see if they voted for VAWA in 2013 and thank them for that.

You can and should request a written response to your telephone call.

While every Senator should be asked, special efforts should be made for the following Senators:

*Senator John Barrasso (R-WY): (202) 224-6441

*!Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ): (202) 224-4521

*Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI): (202) 224-5323

*!Senator John McCain (R-AZ): (202) 224-2235

!Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): (202) 224-6665

!Senator Rob Portman (R-OH): (202) 224-3353

* = on Senate Foreign Relations Committee

! = voted for S. 42, VAWA 2013

 

For questions or more information, contact Celia Richa of Futures Without Violence at 202-595-7387, cricha@futureswithoutviolence.org or Julia Drost of Amnesty International USA at (202) 675-8758, jdrost@aiusa.org.

 

 

Follow us on Twitter at @NTFVAWA and “like” our Facebook page.  If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to ntfvawaalerts@icasa.org

 



Keep Up the Pressure Over Recess for the Military Justice Improvement Act.

 

  • Click here for the list of MJIA supporters.

  • Click here for the bill cosponsors.

  • Click here for the amendment cosponsors.

  • Contact these undecided senators (Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121 or check their websites for direct office numbers):

Whitehouse (D-RI)

Barrasso (R-WY)

Cochran (R-MS)

Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Lee (R-UT)

McConnell (R-KY)

Moran (R-KS)

Rubio (R-FL)

Toomey (R-PA)

 

  • It’s also important to thank senators for supporting the MJIA. They need to hear from us, too! Please also ask them to keep the pressure on leader Reid and their colleagues to ensure the MJIA gets a vote in the US Senate.

 

Call your Senators and Ask Them to Vote for the Military Justice Improvement Act!

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence supports Senator Gillibrand’s efforts to add the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which is expected to be on the Senate Floor as early as next Wednesday, November 13. 

S. 967 (MJIA) has 38 bipartisan sponsors and 47 Senate supporters but we need 13 more votes to ensure that there is no filibuster and to pass this amendment for survivors.   We have less than a week to make our calls and tweets.

Take Action NOW!

  1. Tweet at your Senators asking them to support the MJIA. To find your Senators’ Twitter handle, visit: tweetcongress.org.  Sample tweet:@Senator’sTwitterHandle Listen 2 voices of survivors & VAWA advocates: Vote 4 the MJIA amendment 2 the NDAA.
  2. Contact your Senators directly at their DC offices. The Senators listed below need to hear from you right away with this message:
“Support the Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment to the NDAA because military survivors deserve justice. You must listen to the voices of survivors and act to address the outrageous epidemic of military sexual assault. After VAWA, the MJIA is the next critical step in addressing sexual assault.”

 

Background: The MJIA is a result of advocates and policy makers listening to the voices of survivors. We have heard over and over again the stories of what happens when survivors report and why many don’t report.  All Senators need to listen to these voices and support the reforms survivors say they need.  The MJIA creates an independent objective and non-biased military justice system worthy of the men and women in uniform. We all know that prosecuting sexual assault and domestic violence requires specialized training, and the MJIA would ensure that prosecutors have expertise in these crimes.  

It’s not just advocates, though, who are saying significant change is needed in the military’s approach to major crimes. Military leaders have gone on record with their deep concerns about how the military has thus far responded to sexual assault. In an April 19th speech at Parris Island, General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps said: "Why wouldn't female Marines come forward?  Because they don't trust us. They don't trust the command. They don't trust the leadership.” And then went on to lament a climate in which leaders have "become so soft" on holding wrongdoers accountable.

Just as a bipartisan coalition of Senators came together to pass the Violence Against Women Act to protect survivors and communities, so too must the Senate come together to pass the MJIA and protect survivors and all men and women in the military.

The following Senators need to hear from you THIS WEEK:

ALEXANDER, Lamar (R-TN) (202) 224-4944

BARRASSO, John (R-WY) (202) 224-6441

BAUCUS, Max (D-MT) (202) 224-2651

BOOKER, Cory (D-NJ) (202)-224-3224

BOOZMAN, John (R-AR) (202) 224-4843

BROWN, Sherrod (D-OH) (202) 224-2315

BURR, Richard (R-NC) (202) 224-3154

CHIESA, Jeff (R-NJ) (202) 224-3224

COATS, Daniel (R-IN) (202) 224-5623

COBURN, Tom (R-OK) (202) 224-5754

COCHRAN, Thad (R-MS) (202) 224-5054

CORKER, Bob (R-TN) (202) 224-3344

CORNYN, John (R-TX) (202) 224-2934

CRAPO, Mike (R-ID) (202) 224-6142

DURBIN, Richard J. (D-IL) (202) 224-2152

ENZI, Michael B. (R-WY) (202) 224-3424

FLAKE, Jeff (R-AZ) (202) 224-4521

HATCH, Orrin G. (R-UT) (202) 224-5251

HELLER, Dean (R-NV) (202) 224-6244

ISAKSON, Johnny (R-GA) (202) 224-3643

JOHNSON, Ron (R-WI) (202) 224-5323

KAINE, Tim (D-VA) (202) 224-4024

LANDRIEU, Mary L. (D-LA) (202) 224-5824

LEE, Mike (R-UT)  (202) 224-5444

McCONNELL, Mitch (R-KY)  (202) 224-2541

MORAN, Jerry (R-KS) (202) 224-6521

MURRAY, Patty (D-WA) (202) 224-2621

MURPHY, Christopher (D-CT) (202) 224-4041

PORTMAN, Rob (R-OH) (202) 224-3353

REID, Harry (D-NV) (202) 224-3542

RISCH, James E. (R-ID) (202) 224-2752

ROBERTS, Pat (R-KS) (202) 224-4774

RUBIO, Marco (R-FL) (202) 224-3041

SHELBY, Richard C. (R-AL) (202) 224-5744

TESTER, Jon (D-MT) (202) 224-2644

TOOMEY, Patrick J. (R-PA) (202) 224-4254

WARNER, Mark R. (D-VA) (202) 224-2023

WHITEHOUSE, Sheldon (D-RI) (202) 224-2921

 

Resources:

New York Times story from 11/7/13

Fact sheets and talking points

 

  • For more information, fact sheets, press coverage, support letters, and updates continue to visit 4vawa.org.
  • Follow us on Twitter at @NTFVAWA and “like” our Facebook page. 
  • If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to ntfvawaalerts@icasa.org

 

Prolonged Government Shutdown Continues to Threaten Services for Victims

What is your Congressperson doing to keep shelters and rape crisis centers open?

The House seems no nearer to passing a bill to reopen the government than before.  Progress is stalled in Congress and we need every voice in your state to call for Congress to work quickly to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.

Tell your Congressperson to tell House leadership:

“Open the government and end the shutdown now. The country’s domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers cannot access the funding they need to help victims. These lifesaving services will close down unless you vote now to end the shutdown and lift the debt ceiling with no conditions.”

Congress finally passed a bipartisan, inclusive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act just a few months ago. It was hard work, but in the end they put partisan politics aside and did what was right for victims across the country.

Now the House has to agree to move forward on another bipartisan, inclusive bill to reopen government and lift the debt ceiling. Tell your Congressperson that if this is not done, the crucial work that VAWA authorized will not be available in your state to respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

 

ACTION ITEM 1:  TWEET REPRESENTATIVES TO SAY #JUSTVOTE

Find Members’ Twitter handles here.

.@[handle] The #shutdown is hurting #DV & #SA victims & programs. #JustVote to open govt & lift debt ceiling with no conditions.

 

ACTION ITEM 2:  CALL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES & URGE THEM TO VOTE TO END THE SHUTDOWN

Find your Representative’s phone number here, or call toll-free through 1-888-659-9562.

When you’re connected to their offices, say (or leave a message saying): 

  1. I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _____________.
  2. Please tell Representative _________ to vote to re-open the government and lift the debt ceiling, with no conditions. The shutdown is placing domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers in serious danger of closing, leaving victims with nowhere to turn for safety and support.
  3. The House must move to a vote in order to ensure that life-saving services will continue to be available to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

###

For more information, fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates continue to visit www.4vawa.org.

Follow us on Twitter at @NTFVAWA and “like” our Facebook page.

If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to ntfvawaalerts@icasa.org.

 

Government Shutdown Jeopardizes Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Victims and Programs

Urge the House to vote to end the shutdown now by voting for a clean continuing resolution!

The federal government shutdown is having a very real impact in the lives of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault across the country.  Because the federal agencies that administer funding for the thousands of programs that serve victims have ceased operating, many programs are already (or will soon be) without access to the federal resources they rely on to provide life-saving services every day.  A prolonged shutdown means that victims fleeing violence and seeking supportive services will be without access to emergency shelter, an advocate during the rape kit exam, crisis intervention, or other critical services needed to escape and heal. 

Even before the shutdown began, service providers across the country were often operating on shoestring budgets, having been squeezed by repeated cuts to funding and the federal sequestration.  The truth of the shutdown is that the burden on Congress to agree on the federal budget is tragically being passed off to victims, amplifying their vulnerability and forcing them to stay in harm’s way.  

Victims are bearing the weight of our lawmakers’ inability to agree on federal spending.  While programs remain committed to staying open and providing services as long as they possibly can, they will not be able to weather an extended shutdown. The shutdown must end now in order to ensure that no more programs have to close their doors to victims in desperate need of services and support.

 

Targeted Action:

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was renewed in March with bi-partisan support in the House and Senate.  The government shutdown undermines this lifesaving bill.  Let’s call on those who voted for VAWA to make good on their commitments – to fund the federal government’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault.  Tell all Representatives, especially Republicans who voted for VAWA (found here) that the shutdown is endangering the very victims they voted to protect just a few months ago!

 

For more information on how the shutdown is impacting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence:

NNEDV’s press statement

NAESV’s press statement

The Nation article

ThinkProgress article

 

ACTION ITEM 1:  TWEET REPRESENTATIVES TO SAY #JUSTVOTE

Find Members’ Twitter handles here.

.@[handle] The #shutdown is hurting #DV & #SA programs, leaving victims with nowhere to turn. Need clean CR now! #JustVote

 

ACTION ITEM 2:  CALL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE & URGE THEM TO VOTE TO END THE SHUTDOWN

Find phone numbers for Representatives on our target list here.

When you’re connected to their offices, say (or leave a message saying): 

  1. I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _____________.
  2. Please tell Representative _________ to vote to end the shutdown and pass a clean continuing resolution to fund the government. The shutdown is placing domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers in serious danger of closing, leaving victims with nowhere to turn for safety and support.
  3. The House must move to a vote in order to ensure that life-saving services will continue to be available to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

###

For more information, fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates continue to visit 4vawa.org.

Follow us on Twitter at @NTFVAWA and “like” our Facebook page.

If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to ntfvawaalerts@icasa.org