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Durbin Questions Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco On Helping Young Victims Of Trauma & Violence

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco during a hearing entitled “Renewing and Strengthening the Violence Against Women Act.” Durbin asked Monaco about the impact of trauma on children and what resources the Department of Justice (DOJ) is using to assist victims of trauma or violence. 

“When you read the statistics of not only the number of spouses, but children of those spouses who are either victims of violence or exposed to violence in their lifetime, it is a showstopper…There’s a scar on the souls and minds of these children that has to be addressed or we can see terrible outcomes. We’re going through a spate of gun violence across America and in the City of Chicago, which I dearly love, which is just incredible. And you wonder, who are these kids who get so mixed up with the gangs and turn to guns and violence?” Durbin said. “What can you tell me about your announcement this morning on additional resources that are going toward the issue of dealing with trauma?”

Monaco said one of the founding principles of VAWA was ensuring appropriate training for prosecutors, court systems, victim advocates, and all personnel who encounter children who are exposed to trauma or violence in the home—in order to ensure that those individuals received the services they are due. Monaco said it’s important the systems within DOJ treat and recognize the specialized care that victims of trauma, especially children, will need going forward in their lives.

Durbin responded by saying, “But resources have to be available for analysis, for counseling, for remediation, for mentorship to give these kids a second chance.”

In June, Durbin and U.S. Senators Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), introduced bipartisan legislation to increase support for children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma, including witnessing community violence, parental addiction, or abuse. The Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion (RISE) from Trauma Act dramatically increases funding for community-based efforts to prevent and mitigate the impact of trauma, and expands training and workforce development efforts to support health care, education, social service, first responders, and community leaders to foster resilience and deliver services to heal the impact of trauma.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which requires legislative renewal every five years, initially expired in late 2018 due to the government shutdown.  After a brief reauthorization in the temporary spending bill, it expired again in February 2019.  Though funding for critical programs has continued, a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill is necessary to strengthen a critical lifeline for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Durbin is co-leading a bipartisan group of Senators in an effort to renew and strengthen this legislation. 

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.