Amid Increased Reports of Domestic Violence During Pandemic, Reed and Whitehouse Call for Additional Support for Victims and Survivors
Senators request that future legislation to address pandemic provides funding to support victims and survivors
Washington, D.C. – Amid increased reports of domestic violence in Rhode Island during the ongoing pandemic, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have joined a bipartisan group of 38 colleagues requesting that any future legislation to address COVID-19 includes support for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
In a letter to Senate leadership and the Senate Appropriations Committee, Reed and Whitehouse expressed concern about reports that abusers are using COVID-19 to isolate victims, withhold financial resources, and refuse medical aid; rape crisis centers are seeing increased need for services; and many local law enforcement agencies are receiving an increased number of domestic violence-related calls. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports a 29 percent increase in the number of calls to its helplines in March compared to the same month last year. About 95 percent of Americans are currently under a stay-at-home order.
“We appreciate that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $45 million for domestic violence services funded through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act and $2 million for the National Domestic Violence Hotline,” the senators wrote. “While this funding provides critical resources, the legislation did not include any additional support for sexual assault or domestic violence-related programs funded through the Department of Justice. These programs deliver essential support that is particularly needed at this time, including support for sexual assault service providers, law enforcement, and transitional housing programs, as well as for organizations that address the needs of communities of color and underserved populations.”
Full text of the letter can be found here.
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