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February 5, 2009
Contact: Ron Grignol, <>

Amidst Doubts of Effectiveness, Groups Question $400 Million for Abuse Programs in Stimulus Bill

WASHINGTON, February 5, 2009 – Some groups worry that the $400 million in bill for abuse-reduction efforts will do little to stimulate the economy, and are calling on lawmakers to remove the funds until domestic violence programs show proof of effectiveness. The call comes from RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting), a victim advocacy organization, as well as from other partner organizations.

The $900 billion economic stimulus bill has been criticized for including programs that may not stimulate economic growth, such as $1 billion for Amtrak; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research; and $2.4 billion for carbon-capture projects.

Why isn't the normal budget process being used to fund the domestic violence programs? After all, it requires difficult and tortured logic to claim that this money is for economic stimulus. The short answer is that advocates for the funding are doing what most advocates do, getting sympathetic law makers to get them money through spending bills. But a closer look sheds light on another motive.

Although it appears at first that there could be nothing controversial about spending money to prevent domestic violence or help victims of domestic violence, opposition to certain federally funded domestic violence programs has developed over the last several years.

Groups such as African-Americans for VAWA Reform believe the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) relies too heavily on law enforcement and ignores the needs of male abuse victims. Other problems include a rise in false accusations of domestic violence which lead to families unnecessarily being torn apart, and victims revictimized by abuse shelter staff, and immigration loopholes that grant permanent status to foreign nationals based on a simple allegation of abuse. In addition, statistics show that VAWA has not been effective in reducing domestic violence.

According to RADAR spokesperson David Heleniak, "If we had real debate, a lot of these problems could be corrected, and the law could protect and help true victims of domestic violence. With the funding increases attached to the stimulus bill, however, debate is impossible."

Next year a new five-year reauthorization bill for VAWA will be introduced in Congress. Funding to solve the problem of domestic violence will not stimulate the economy, so that funding belongs in VAWA, not the stimulus bill.

A report based on a review of dozens of research studies that analyzes the effectiveness of our nation's campaign to curb domestic violence can be viewed at: http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Why-DV-Programs-Fail-to-Stop-Abuse.pdf.

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org.

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