Vermont receiving millions to combat domestic violence

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:16 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 7:04 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is getting $6 million in federal funding to support victims of domestic violence.

The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women announced Wednesday 10 service providers across the state will split the money. It’s funding Vermont U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan says the state very much needs.

Nolan says nearly half of Vermont homicides are related to domestic violence. The state has also outpaced the national average for male perpetrators and female victims. This year, there’s a seven percent uptick in reports of domestic violence to law enforcement compared to last year, which her office says is partially attributable to the pandemic. Nolan adds while her office prioritizes prosecuting abusers, her team can’t solve this problem alone.

“We need these outstanding victims service providers... who focus all of their energy every day on support and identification of victims. They do so before, during, and after criminal cases, and they do so for the cases that don’t make it to court, which is so many cases, so many cases,” Nolan said.

Nolan says so far this year, her office has charged 10 offenders. That’s more than double the number charged in all of 2019. She says she recognizes domestic violence cases are some of the most difficult for state’s attorneys to prosecute, especially because victims are often required to testify in court, a painful process during which they must face their abusers. She’s warning abusers her office will charge them in federal court whenever they can. She says it’s much easier to prove unlawful possession of a firearm than domestic violence, and those cases don’t need the victim’s testimony.

The organizations and government agencies awarded include the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Vermont Pride Center, the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, Inc., Vermont Legal Aid, WomenSafe, Inc., Project Against Violent Encounters, Steps to End Domestic Violence, Umbrella, Have Justice Will Travel, and the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services.

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