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(Keene, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was joined today by the head of Keene’s Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention and others in calling for swift passage of a strong and bipartisan extension of the Violence Against Women Act. The Act, which provides access to critical services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, has already expired and must be reauthorized before money for local programs runs out.

“We need a strong Violence Against Women Act that gives our advocates and law enforcement the tools they need to combat domestic violence and help victims,” Shaheen said. “The funding this act makes possible has meant so much to so many, including the clients, staff and volunteers at the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention. We need to come together to make sure this funding remains in place and reaches those in need.”

The Senate passed a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act on April 26 by a bipartisan vote of 68-31. The House passed a version that stripped out crucial protections that were in the Senate bill for victims in same-sex relationships, for immigrant victims and for women on tribal lands. Also absent in the House bill are protections for students on college campuses.  Right now, the two versions of the bill must be reconciled before a final version can be sent to the President for signature into law. Shaheen has urged the House to pass the bipartisan Senate version. 

“We’ve been helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault for over 30 years, and the funding provided by the Violence Against Women Act is critical to maintaining those services,” said Robin Christopherson, Executive Director of the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention. “I hope everyone understands how important this issue is. We can’t wait until the last minute.”

Despite the advocacy work being done in New Hampshire, nearly one in four women in New Hampshire has been sexually assaulted, at least a third of New Hampshire women have been the victim of a physical assault by an intimate partner and more than half of all women in the state have experienced sexual or physical assault over the course of their lifetime, according to the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. According to the Department of Justice, twenty-five percent of college women will be the victim of rape by the time they complete a four-year program.