Beverly Tillery, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, the nation’s largest LGBTQ specific anti-violence organization, issued the following statement on the Kavanaugh hearings and VAWA re authorization:
The treatment of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was just one more demonstration of this Administration’s disrespect and lack of concern for survivors of sexual violence. I watched the hearings with a knot in my stomach, not only because Dr. Blasey Ford was questioned and challenged as if she was on trial, and many senators and the President showed a complete lack of concern that a Supreme Court Justice nominee has been accused of sexual violence by multiple women. But I watched knowing the many steps this Administration has taken, and continues to take, to cut direct services and roll back protections for survivors of violence.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three women and more than one in four men in the U.S. experience rape, physical violence, or stalking from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Still, the President and his administration have been systematically eroding federal support for survivors of sexual violence which has been particularly harmful towards LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities. This Administration has cut funding for programs that directly serve survivors, proposed deep cuts to public benefit programs that help survivors escape violence situations and remain independent, and is attempting to prohibit domestic violence survivors from seeking asylum. AVP has already lost critical federal funding that helps keep our services available and free to LGBTQ survivors.
Congress has the opportunity to take a positive step for survivors by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but they are dragging their feet. Since its introduction in 1994, VAWA has provided almost half a billion dollars in funding to nonprofits and community organizations that support survivors of violence. In 2013, AVP and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), which we coordinate, worked tirelessly to ensure that the LGBTQ community was explicitly included in VAWA, and as a result, VAWA became the first, and so far the only, piece of legislation passed by Congress that explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Because of these protections in VAWA, LGBTQ survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence have greater access to services. But if conservative law makers have their way, the protections for LGBTQ survivors under VAWA could be severely stripped.
As we saw yesterday, and we’ve seen over and over, Congress and this Administration aren’t capable in supporting survivors of sexual violence. At a time in this country when more survivors are bravely speaking up, and many of us y are calling for accountability and access to services, the least Congress can do is to ensure that those of us who know how to support survivors have the resources to do so.
Every day, AVP staff provide a lifeline of support and advocacy to LGBTQ survivors of sexual violence who are disbelieved, discredited, retraumatized, and revictimized by those who are supposed to help them.
Today, you can help make sure AVP can keep providing free and affirming services for LGBTQ survivors of all forms of violence.
Contact Congress and ask them to:
- Call for a full investigation into the accusations against Kavanaugh
- Reauthorize VAWA with full inclusion of LGBTQ survivors