The U.S. Department of Justice
September 8, 2023
The Justice Department announced today $58,860,034 in Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) grants to provide legal services and to improve effective coordination of justice systems impacting survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. OVW awarded the funds under the Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) Program, Justice for Families (JFF) Program, Expanding Legal Services Initiative (ELSI) and the Domestic Violence Mentor Court Technical Assistance Initiative.
The need for specialized legal services is both urgent and essential for survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. These services provide interventions, such as securing restraining or protective orders and address issues such as child custody, immigration, housing and employment, that are essential for survivor safety. Moreover, there is a significant overlap between domestic violence and family law, particularly in cases involving children; survivors often need legal counsel to navigate complex issues like child custody, visitation and child support. The legal system is inherently complicated, and for survivors who are simultaneously managing the emotional and physical toll of abuse, navigating it can be overwhelming. Despite this acute demand, many communities still lack adequate resources, underscoring the urgency for more comprehensive legal support to ensure both justice and safety for survivors.
“Access to legal assistance is a lifeline for survivors of gender-based violence,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Survivors must be able to access services and support that provide a pathway to safety and justice. The Justice Department funding announced today will expand access to legal representation and make it easier for thousands of survivors to navigate the justice system every year.”
“The Legal Assistance for Victims Grant, in conjunction with the Justice for Families Program and the Domestic Violence Mentor Court Technical Assistance Initiative, serve as a powerful multi-pronged strategy to transform the justice system’s approach to supporting families affected by violence,” stated OVW Director Rosemarie Hidalgo. “These grants enhance court-related programs, trauma-informed training, and resources, while also providing victims with specialized legal support. This includes assistance with securing protective orders and navigating complex family law matters. Collectively, these grants advance a more comprehensive approach, aimed at ensuring that survivors and their families don’t merely navigate our legal system, but genuinely find a path to justice and safety.”
Specifically, OVW awarded a total of $39,638,367 to 55 grantees under the LAV Program, which addresses the legal needs of survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. ELSI, which operates under the LAV Program, awarded $3,199,306 through eight grants to support the development of new legal services programs. In addition, OVW’s JFF Program awarded $15,272,361 to 25 projects that aim to improve the capacity of communities and courts in responding to families impacted by violence. Moreover, $750,000 was awarded under the Domestic Violence Mentor Court Technical Assistance Initiative to recognize well-established specialized courts and enable them to guide newly-established specialized courts and court-based programs that wish to significantly improve their responses to domestic violence cases and ensure victim safety and offender accountability.
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Created in 1995, OVW provides leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act and subsequent legislation. OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. In addition to overseeing federal grant programs, OVW undertakes initiatives in response to special needs identified by communities facing acute challenges.