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Domestic violence hotlines needs swift Senate approval | Opinion

H.R. 6014 reauthorizes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act for an additional five years.

A view of the U.S. Capitol Building on July 25, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
A view of the U.S. Capitol Building on July 25, 2017, in Washington, D.C.Read moreEvan Golub/Zuma Press/TNS

Every minute in the United States, 20 people will be abused by an intimate partner. That's more than 10 million people a year.

The numbers are staggering: One in four women and one in seven men have experienced severe physical abuse by a partner, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  Yet the issue has been cast into the background throughout most of our history, remaining a hidden problem.

Survivors of domestic violence have often lived through physical, mental, and emotional abuse in silence out of fear their spouses or partners would retaliate.

In the 1970s, former battered women, civic organizations, and professionals began to open shelters to provide services to abused women and their children. After seeing the great results from these efforts, Congress led a series of hearings in the early 1980s to understand the scope of the violence and explore possible responses. Congress would eventually pass legislation touching on all facets of domestic abuse.

As part of the Child Abuse Amendments of 1984, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act – or FVPSA – was enacted to support life-saving services, such as emergency shelters, crisis hotlines, counseling, and programs for underserved communities throughout the U.S., including its territories.  Survivors finally had somewhere to turn to escape their abusers.

That's why we proudly introduced H.R. 6014, which reauthorizes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act for an additional five years. The House of Representatives approved it unanimously at the end of September. It now awaits action in the Senate, and we hope it will be swiftly passed to ensure there is no lapse in funding for these essential services.

Congress sets aside funding for three purposes under FVPSA:

  1. A national domestic hotline that receives calls for assistance related to domestic violence.

  2. Direct services, such as housing, counseling, legal advocacy, and referrals, through state grants for victims of domestic violence and their children.

  3. Efforts to prevent domestic violence through a program known as the Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Allies.

Domestic abuse comes in many forms, and it does not discriminate: men, women, children, and people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses can be victims.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence and the National Domestic Violence Hotline  are two organizations that serve domestic violence victims and survivors. Millions of individuals turn to the hotline for help. FVPSA will keep the hotline open and allow it to answer more than four million calls, texts, and chats from people in crisis.

As a society, we must have zero tolerance for domestic violence. All victims and survivors must be helped and heard.  Reauthorizing federal funding is one step toward helping millions of people get the life-saving services and support they need to say "no more."

Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R., Pa.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D., Del.) serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. If you or someone you know is being abused, support and help are available. Visit National Domestic Violence Hotline's website or call 1-800-799-7233.