Federal funds awarded for domestic violence victim services

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(Host) Three Vermont groups have been awarded more than one and a half million dollars in federal funds to provide additional services for victims of domestic violence.

Some of the money will be used to help develop programs for children of the victims.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The funds are being made available as part of the reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act.

Roughly $450,000 will be sent to the Chittenden County based group “Women Helping Battered Women.”

Anera Foco is the Agency Coordinator for the organization. She says the funds will be used for a variety of programs that are designed to support victims who are trying to move out of abusive relationships.

(Foco) “In a sense of helping them achieve self sufficiency, not feeling trapped by economics or not feeling trapped by lack of affordable housing, trying to support them so they can actually find a safety find financial resources in this community and continue living healthy and safe lives.”

(Kinzel) Foco says the some of the money will also be used to expand programs for children of domestic violence victims. She says it’s critical for the children to learn that violence and aggression aren’t appropriate forms of behavior:

(Foco) “It’s important to start early and it’s important to start young to dispel the myths and also to support children that are witnessing domestic violence directly or again indirectly. It’s important for them to know that there is a whole other side and there is support and that they are not alone.”

(Kinzel) The Vermont Center for Crime Victims Services is receiving $900,000 to develop programs in the most rural parts of the state.

Executive director Judy Rex says one of the goals is to build stronger relationships between the Vermont Department of Children and Families and local domestic violence programs, because there’s often a link between incidents of domestic violence and child abuse.

(Rex) “To help them look for signs of domestic violence and to address both problems. If there’s child abuse going on and the mom is also being battered that there’s a plan to address both – all the violence in the family, not just focusing on the child abuse.”

(Kinzel) Rex says her organization also wants to address the needs of the victim’s children because they’re often aware of the violence in their family.

(Rex) “The kids definitely know it exists. Either they hear it or they just feel the tension between the mom and dad and tend to be very quiet about it. But they’re thinking about it and you know how kids are. They tend to blame themselves or really internalize what’s going on in the family and it’s just not healthy.”

(Kinzel) The third grant, in the amount of $155,000 has been awarded to the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to help fund community prevention programs in several parts of the state.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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