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Domestic violence survivor advocates push for more funding for support programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the danger facing many domestic violence survivors.

Lockdowns and limited resources have left many in close quarters with their abuser, leaving many to feel they have nowhere else to go.

On average, every minute nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).

That comes out to more than ten million people a year.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill Monday heard testimony from domestic violence organizations about the impact the pandemic has had on helping survivors.

“All of us know someone who has been impacted by intimate partner violence,” said Vanessa Timmons, Executive Director of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “Stay at home orders, quarantine and a lack of privacy that is inherent in an abusive home has created additional barriers to safety and access to services.”

Domestic violence not only impacts the adult partners, but also tragically affects children.

One in 15 children in the country are exposed to intimate partner violence every year, according to NCADV.

“To prevent domestic violence and child abuse, we must take a wholistic approach,” said Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Experts said that approach should include more funding for state and local agencies.

They called on Congress to reauthorize and expand the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) which provides federal funding to local domestic violence agencies around the country.

“Survivors are often isolated due to cultural factors, language barriers and lack of awareness of our lawful protections,” said Ami Novoryta. Chief Program Officer for the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.