(Washington, DC) – Today, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) announced that the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH HHS) has been awarded a $289,598 Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) Program grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The RPE program was started by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and works to prevent sexual violence by stopping perpetration, reducing risk factors, and using evidence to design, carry out and evaluate prevention programming.
“Combating sexual assault requires a multi-faceted approach, and that includes investing in prevention measures to identify threats and prevent potential attacks,” said Senator Shaheen. “Boosting federal assistance for our law enforcement, courts and survivor advocacy organizations are among my top priorities as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which allocates federal dollars that fund the critical agencies and programs doing the work on the ground. I’ll continue to reach across the aisle to ensure New Hampshire has the resources it needs to keep our communities safe, and help survivors seek justice.”
“One of the most effective ways to prevent sexual violence is to educate people – especially at an early age – about what this behavior looks like and how to stop it,” Senator Hassan said. “By investing in programs that focus on prevention and working to change the culture that contributes to sexual violence, this important grant will help to combat sexual violence in New Hampshire.”
“When it comes to combatting sexual violence, prevention is key, and everyone has a role to play,” said Kuster, the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. “This funding will bolster efforts by NH HHS to educate the public, especially young people, about this persistent problem and how they can help stop sexual violence before it happens. I’m pleased this grant has been awarded and I will continue working to end this societal scourge and support survivors everywhere. The incredible impact of RPE is a reminder of the urgency with which Congress must reauthorize VAWA. I am committed to working with my colleagues to protect and enhance these critical programs.”
“More must be done on prevention and education when it comes to sexual violence, and these funds will help provide information and empower individuals throughout their lives,” said Congressman Chris Pappas. “This grant is a reminder that we must reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act which provides funding for critical programs to combat domestic and sexual violence. I will continue to work with my colleagues to augment resources for state and community efforts aimed at prevention and support for survivors.”
Congresswoman Kuster is a co-sponsor of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee’s Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize VAWA and triple the amount of funding for the RPE program.
Kuster has long been a champion for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, sharing her own personal experiences involving sexual assault on the House floor and joining with 17 other Members of Congress to read Emily Doe’s open letter describing her attack and ensuing trial – which marked the first time a victim’s statement has been read in full in the House chambers. The Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence works to raise awareness and propose solutions to the challenges posed by sexual assault and released their first legislative agenda last summer. The Task Force’s areas of focus include: K-12 education, campus sexual violence, the rape kit backlog, military sexual trauma, improved data and collection, online harassment, and law enforcement training.
Shaheen is a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Rape Prevention and Education Program, and worked to include $49.4 million in federal funding for this grant program in the fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending legislation. Additionally, Shaheen has a history of securing record-level federal funding to support grants provided through the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). In the fiscal year FY 2018 omnibus funding legislation, Shaheen procured $492 million for the OVW and $47.5 million for a grant program to support comprehensive reforms regarding sexual assault and reducing the backlog of rape kits.
Senator Shaheen has been a leader in the Senate on legislation to establish basic rights and protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Senator Shaheen’s bill, the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act – also known as the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act —was signed into law in 2016 and created the first federal codified rights specifically for sexual assault survivors, and provides survivors the opportunity to enforce those rights in federal court. Shaheen was part of the bipartisan group that reintroduced the International Violence Against Women Act in 2017, and has historically been a leader in reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.