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Violence Against Women Act renewed by Congress, sent to Obama

Many people in the United States live with domestic violence as an everyday occurrence because they believe they have nowhere else to go. Fortunately, those who encounter difficult times can take advantage of assistance programs run by local or state governments and nonprofits. Now that the Congress has finally renewed a bill dedicated to reducing domestic violence, many of these programs will finally receive the funding they so desperately need.

The bill, which was sent to President Obama on Feb. 28, not only renews the Violence Against Women Act, it also extends it reach. First passed into law in 1994, the program sets the standards by which women and men, including those in the Cape May, New Jersey, area, are protected from domestic abuse and how their abusers are prosecuted. The bill will fund current programs with $659 million over a five-year period to pay for temporary housing and legal assistance for those subject to domestic violence, as well as law enforcement training programs and domestic abuse hotlines.

Since it was initially introduced, the Violence Against Women Act had been renewed on two separate occasions, but it stalled in 2011 due to a divided Congress. A similar bill was introduced in 2012 but was not passed. Much of the debate around the bill had to do with the way immigrants, Native Americans and the gay and lesbian community were included in its terms.

Anyone who is subject to physical abuse, domestic assault or emotional distress in their own home should know that there are programs out there that can help. In addition, this bill ensures that victims can press charges against their abusers and see the case through on a criminal basis and, in some cases, through civil litigation.

Source: The Washington Times, "Congress passes bill renewing anti-violence law," Jim Abrams, Feb. 28, 2013

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