The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2022 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Research indicates that programs that teach young people healthy relationship skills such as communication, effectively managing feelings, and problem-solving can prevent violence. Hopefully, these skills can stop violence in dating relationships before it occurs. If our children are to face a future free from sexual violence, the Rape Prevention and Education program funding must increase significantly.
House and Senate Appropriations Committees are finalizing FY 2024 appropriations bills. We are alarmed that there is a proposed reduction of $700 million to the VOCA Crime Victims Fund. As crime increases, programs supporting crime victims are the backbone of our communities. This proposed catastrophic budget cut puts millions of victims and survivors of violence at risk.
The VOCA Crime Victims Fund is a non-taxpayer source of funding supported by monetary penalties and fees associated with federal convictions. Deposits fluctuate annually based on the cases that the Department of Justice successfully prosecutes, and deposits have been low for several years, impacting the balance of the Fund. Annually, congressional leaders set the amount to be released from the Crime Victims Fund, which supports specific Department of Justice programs, state victim assistance grants, and supplement state victim compensation funds. Current FY 2024 pending bills in both the House and Senate recommend a 40% reduction in funding levels, affecting all programs but impacting state programs in rural and low-income communities the most. Potentially millions of victims nationwide will lose access to lifesaving and life-sustaining child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and other victim services. Without access to these critical services, the real-time impact will not only be felt by individuals and families, but also in communities nationwide. No program can absorb cuts of this magnitude.