Oct 09 2017
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Heitkamp Helps Honor Minot Domestic Violence Service Center
For 40 Years, Minot DVCC Has Offered Refuge to Domestic Violence and Abuse Victims – Since January Has Provided Emergency Shelter to 111 Adults, 86 Children
Since Her Time as ND’s Attorney General, Heitkamp has Been Working to Fight Domestic Violence & Abuse Through Increased Awareness and Legal Protection
MINOT, N.D. – As part of her efforts to bring greater attention to domestic violence in North Dakota communities, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today helped present the Minot Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) with $7,500 in funding to help make its transitional housing facilities more energy efficient and cost effective.
Joining Farm Credit Services members at the Minot DVCC during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Heitkamp underscored the need to shine a light on the men, women, and children in violent or abusive situations and the importance of local organizations like the DVCC that help bring them to safety. Now in its 40th year of service to the Minot community, the facility has provided 3,000 nights of lodging to those seeking refuge this year alone. Since January, the Minot DVCC has given emergency shelter to 111 adults and 86 children fleeing dangerous domestic circumstances.
Heitkamp also toured with Minot DVCC leaders and Farm Credit Services members a transitional housing unit that will benefit from one of the new furnaces the facilities will receive as part of today’s award. The DVCC’s transitional housing facilities provide families – including 10 women and 12 children this year alone – with up to 18 months of stay to help them recover and rebuild their lives.
“Domestic violence and abuse are often among the most shrouded, painful, and difficult situations for victims to escape – often because they involve loved ones, family members, and limited supportive options for those in need of refuge,” said Heitkamp. “For 40 years, the Minot Domestic Violence Crisis Center has helped shine a light on these issues, while discretely offering protection and a path forward for mothers, fathers, and children escaping abuse. When our community comes together to strengthen and protect our most vulnerable, that’s a great day for our families and our state. That’s why I’m honored to join the Farm Service Agency today in presenting the Minot Domestic Violence Crisis Center with funding to improve its transitional housing units so that more in our community can seek protection, and rebuild their lives. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month and every day, we must continue to grow our statewide awareness of these issues to keep all of our families strong and safe.”
In a one-day survey in North Dakota in 2016 on domestic violence, 309 victims sought refuge in an emergency shelter or transitional housing, and 188 adults and children received services like counseling, legal advocacy, and children’s support groups.
Heitkamp has long worked to combat domestic violence in North Dakota and across the country. As North Dakota Attorney General in the 1990s, she implemented the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) across the state, and worked to change the perception of domestic violence as a public health issue, so it would be treated and viewed as what it is – a criminal act. As a result, Heitkamp saw firsthand the dramatic changes in the number of incidents that followed after domestic violence was criminalized. Largely due to VAWA, according to the Justice Department, the annual incidences of domestic violence have fallen more than 60 percent since 1993.
Since joining the Senate, Heitkamp has built on her work as Attorney General to combat domestic violence and stop those who seek to harm adults and children:
- Introducing and helping pass bipartisan legislation to combat domestic violence by promoting pro-bono legal services for victims. Introduced with Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Heitkamp’s Pro bono Work to Empower and Represent (POWER Act) unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate in August. The bill would specifically require U.S. attorneys in each judicial district across the country to work with domestic violence service providers, coalitions, or an area volunteer lawyer project to hold at least one event promoting pro-bono legal services each year.
- Successfully fighting for greater protections for tribal communities in Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. The first bill Heitkamp cosponsored in the U.S. Senate was the reauthorization of VAWA, which she then played a key role in pushing through Congress. Heitkamp worked to include a key provision in VAWA to address the continuing crisis of violence against women in tribal communities. The provision strengthens the existing programs and provides tribal governments the force they need to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators who commit these crimes on tribal land. In 2015, Heitkamp supported a year-end spending deal that included a significant increase in federal funding to support domestic violence victims. The $480 million in federal support from the Office on Violence Against Women was a $50 million increase from the previous year, to be used for victims’ services, legal, training and technical assistance, as well as research and analysis on violence against Native women.
- Raising awareness of domestic violence resources in North Dakota. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month last October, Heitkamp met with staff and board members at Fargo’s Rape and Abuse Crisis Center which offers resources for domestic, sexual, and dating violence survivors. In October 2014, Heitkamp met with community leaders, advocates, and victims services in Fargo and Minot to highlight the need to address domestic violence as a public health crisis. Heitkamp also toured the Community Violence Intervention Center (CVIC) in Grand Forks and in Minot in 2015 to see programs supporting victims and combatting domestic violence in each region.
- Addressing emerging challenges in North Dakota to better combat domestic violence. In 2014, Heitkamp convened a task force of experts, law enforcement and leaders across the state in launching her Strong & Safe Communities Initiative to address emerging challenges – including a rise in domestic violence – in the wake of the oil and gas boom. Last August, Heitkamp released her Strong & Safe Communities Report offering a comprehensive set of proposals to address challenges facing North Dakota, including solutions on domestic violence and a host of other issues facing the state.