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DOJ Sends $1.8B to Crime Victims

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) issued more than $1.8 billion in awards to organizations across the country supporting victims, the Justice Department announced. The funds were disbursed to state assistance and compensation entities focused on aiding victims in the near-term, right after a crime, and in the long-term as they work toward rebuilding their lives.

DOJ Programs“Advocates, service providers, and law enforcement agencies from around the country stand ready to help crime victims exercise their legal rights and reclaim their lives,” said Attorney General William P. Barr, in a statement. “These new funding resources continue this administration’s unprecedented commitment to providing the support necessary for victims of crimes to be able to heal and recover.”

The OVC is a wing of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and its keynote grant program is supported by the Crime Victims Fund, according to the department. A vast majority of the funding is used to support “local direct service programs” including those aiding domestic violence victims, children, rape victims, victims of human trafficking and the elderly. Civil legal services, victims’ assistance personnel in prosecutors’ offices and victims’ rights enforcement agencies are also supported by the funding.

“Building on the historic amount of victim assistance and victim compensation funding awarded last year, these new awards have the potential to alter the landscape of the victims’ field, putting services and support within reach of every crime victim in America,” said Katharine T. Sullivan, OJP's principal deputy assistant attorney general. “Backed by an Attorney General whose commitment to crime victims is second to none, we are proud to make these resources available to help meet the emotional, psychological and financial needs that victims face in the aftermath of crime.”

FROM TWITTER

OJP OVC @OJPOVC Oct 5

"Meet the 2020 National Crime Victims’ Service Awards recipients recently honored by Office for Victims of Crime Director Hart and @OJPgov and @TheJusticeDept leadership during a private, virtual event."

The grant funding comes in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an annual push each October to combat domestic violence and educate victims and their loved ones about outlets for relief. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, this year has presented particular challenges for survivors of domestic violence as isolation intensified and access to resources and support are cut off.

“Amid the pandemic, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has worked diligently to continue to provide essential safety planning, validation and connection to local resources for survivors,” reads information from the resource. “The Hotline continues to raise awareness of the increased risk to domestic violence survivors during this time, and enhance public education on how they can best support survivors in their networks. During stay-at-home orders, survivors were in closer proximity to their abusers for longer stretches of time.”

The hotline also released a special report highlighting the impact COVID-19 had on victims of domestic violence during the pandemic’s onset from mid-March to mid-May. During that time, stay-at-home orders were widespread, and according to information from advocates, contact volume increased 9% compared to those same months in 2019.

“While the pandemic has brought new challenges to people across the country, especially survivors, we can all take action to end domestic violence. Uplifting survivors’ voices, advocating for lifesaving resources, and reaching out when friends or loved ones are in trouble will help us build a world without domestic violence,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “When we educate ourselves and others about domestic abuse, we equip communities with knowledge and confidence to end violence.”

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