EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The Department of Justice joins survivors, victim service providers, advocates, and communities across the nation in recognizing October as “National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).”

DOJ Officials say this is a time to center the experiences of survivors, honor those who lost their lives to domestic violence, express gratitude to the countless individuals in the movement to end violence and raise awareness on the issues of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

As part of its monthlong observance of DVAM, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is proud to announce that the Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) awarded $1,347,116 to the Middle District for coordinated community responses aimed at bringing an end to domestic violence, and similar crimes.

Data from the most recent National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey indicate about 41% of women and 26% of men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported an intimate partner violence-related impact during their lifetime.

Domestic violence rates are even higher for American Indian and Alaska Native populations, Black individuals, people of color, people with disabilities, and those within the LGBTQ+ community.

Officials say the grants will reach Tribal nations, historically marginalized communities, underserved communities, college and university campuses, rural towns, culturally specific communities, and more.

The funding prioritizes increasing access to justice, improving survivor safety, holding perpetrators accountable, and offering training and technical support to professionals addressing these crimes.

Specifically, the Middle District of Pennsylvania received the following funds for the 2023 fiscal year:

  • OVW awarded $573,202 to PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence/PA Coalition Against Rape under State and Territory Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalitions Program to enhance the coordination between courts, child protective services agencies, advocates, law enforcement, and community programs to encourage trauma-informed, survivor-centered responses to domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • OVW awarded $374,836 to State College Borough under the Improving Criminal Justice Responses to Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Grant Program to promote coordinated community responses among law enforcement agencies, courts, victim service providers, and other system partners.
  • OVW awarded $399,078.00 to Widener University under the Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking on Campus Program (Campus Program) to support colleges and universities to develop and strengthen effective security and investigation strategies for such crimes and to develop prevention education and awareness programs.

“I am pleased to announce that the Middle District of Pennsylvania has been awarded over $1.3 million in funding from the Office on Violence Against Women. These grants will help agencies, organizations, and colleges to provide victim services and to address domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in our communities across the Middle District,” said United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam.

“Every day, a vast network of dedicated individuals helps domestic violence survivors access multiple pathways to safety, justice, and healing. OVW understands that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing domestic violence. These funds will enable communities to increase capacity and strengthen a coordinated community approach to prevent and address violence in more comprehensive ways tailored to their communities. Together, with our grantees, we are building a future where individuals and families can live and thrive without the threat of intimate partner violence,” said OVW Director Rosie Hidalgo.

Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities nationwide that are developing programs, policies, and practices to end 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. Learn more at www.justice.gov/ovw.

For more information on the U.S. Attorney`s Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania, visit their website.