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(Rochester, NH) – Law enforcement officials and service providers for victims of domestic violence joined U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today to explain why Congress must reauthorize and extend the Violence Against Women Act.  Shaheen toured the Strafford County Family Justice Center (SCFJC) in Rochester.

For nearly 20 years, the Act has provided federal funding for critical services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Unless Congress reauthorizes it before the end of the federal fiscal year in September, federal grants to states and local service providers like SCFJC are at risk.

“Helping women and families cope with domestic violence is simply too important an issue for political games,” Shaheen said.  “The Violence Against Women Act is a long-running, successful federal program that has historically had strong bipartisan support.  We must reauthorize it so that victims of domestic violence in New Hampshire and across the country can continue to benefit from these essential services.”

“Strafford County has a long history of successful collaboration.  The Family Justice Center is an example of such collaboration with partners working together to increase the safety of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking by providing a multitude of services under one roof,” said Heather Hesse-Stromberg, chair of the SCFJC Advisory Council.  “The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is critical to ensuring these important services continue.  We are grateful to Senator Shaheen for taking a strong stand in support of such important legislation.”

SCFJC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.  The center offers a 24-hour hotline, crisis counseling, safety planning, court accompaniment and social service advocacy, support groups and education to both women and men.

According to the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, 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.

The Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994 and was reauthorized with broad bipartisan support in 2000 and 2005.  More than 200 national organizations and 500 state and local organizations have expressed their support for the bill, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Attorneys General, the National District Attorneys’ Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.