by Michelle Freeman, Senior Policy and Advocacy Specialist
On Monday, President Obama signed into law the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVSPA). After months of being overshadowed by bigger ticket legislation and an erratic shuffling through Congress, FVPSA was one of few pieces of legislation to win passage during the lame duck session. FVPSA is the only dedicated federal program supporting shelters, crisis lines counseling, and other victim assistance programs in local communities across the country. For 25 years, FVPSA, which expired in 2008, has provided emergency life saving services for victims of domestic violence and their children at their most critical moments- when they are fleeing an abusive environment.
This was truly a hard won grassroots victory. Congratulations! We can now take a breath and celebrate. The willingness of advocates both national and local and engaged constituents, particularly survivors to keep calling and sending letters fueled public attention for a bill that had stalled in committee.
I have hope, despite declarations that the 112th session of Congress will be more divisive than the 111th session, that a bi-partisan strategy, which ultimately led to the passage of FVPSA, will be employed next year when the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) seeks reauthorization. For the victim service providers and survivors at the front lines, politics should not and cannot impede good policy.
Be sure to view the White House blog on the FVPSA signing.