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President Obama’s Budget and the White House’s Commitment to Combating Violence Against Women

The President’s Budget works to give women and families the tools that they need to succeed in this new century.  We know domestic violence and sexual assault are barriers that stop many women from reaching their full potential.  One in every four women have been victims of domestic violence during their lifetimes and more than 20 million women in the U.S. have been victims of rape.  The health-related costs alone exceed $5.8 billion each year. 

The President and the Vice President’s commitment to combating violence against women is strong.  Even though this is a tough fiscal climate, the Budget includes $777 million to support victims of violence, including domestic abuse and sexual assault – an increase of $175 million over FY 2010 enacted levels.

The Budget fills gaps in local services for the neediest victims by providing a $100 million increase from the Crime Victims Fund to provide emergency shelter, transitional housing, and other local services; $135 million in the Department of Health and Human Services for battered women’s shelters and services; and $4.5 million for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. There is also $50 million in Violence Against Women Act funding for Legal Assistance for Victims, which has been shown to help victims escape from abusive relationships. 

The Budget also dedicated $70 million to sexual assault services through the Sexual Assault Services Program and the Crime Victims Fund.  One in six women and one in thirty-three men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, which has serious emotional and physical consequences. Rape victims are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-victims. 

The Budget also focuses on teens and young adults, creating opportunities to intervene early and prevent violence before it starts.

All of these programs are essential lifelines from the first call for help to crisis intervention to helping victims and their children rebuild their lives.

That’s why this funding is needed now as much as ever before. Despite progress made in the last 16 years, too many women – particularly young women – are beaten, raped, and stalked every year. Also, the recent economic downturn has been especially difficult for survivors, as service providers are recording all-time high hotline calls, requests for shelter, and demand for legal aid.

Now more than ever, we must help all members of our society thrive and succeed.  I am proud to say that the President’s Budget invests in women’s lives and invests in our future.

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Lynn Rosenthal is the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women