March 20, 2020

Feinstein to Administration: Protect Domestic Violence Victims During Coronavirus Pandemic

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on the Trump administration to protect victims and survivors of domestic violence during COVID-19 pandemic.

“Domestic violence victims and survivors face unique challenges in this crisis,” Senator Feinstein wrote. “Not only do some facing eviction have no alternative but to live with their abusers, many are also now facing unemployment. Domestic violence programs already need more resources, and the coronavirus pandemic will only place more pressure on them.”

In separate letters to the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women and Office on Victims of Crime; the Department of Health and Human Services Family Violence Prevention and Services Program and Administration on Children, Youth and Families; and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Senator Feinstein requested information on administration efforts to ensure victims and survivors continue to access to food support and housing programs.

Full text of the letter to the Office on Violence Against Women follows:

March 20, 2020

Ms. Laura Rogers, Director
Office on Violence Against Women
U.S. Department of Justice
800 K Street, N.W., Suite 920
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Director Rogers:

I am writing to request information on the steps you are taking to protect victims and survivors of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic.

Advocates and state officials have expressed concern that containment measures, including mandatory self-quarantine requirements, could lead to an increase in domestic violence incidents. For example, on March 18, 2020, Time magazine published an article titled, “As Cities Around the World Go on Lockdown, Victims of Domestic Violence Look For A Way Out.” The article explains that for some victims and survivors of domestic violence, mandatory lockdowns “have trapped them in their homes with their abusers, isolated from the people and the resources that could help them.” Simply put, as the coronavirus pandemic requires more home isolation, more victims and survivors will be put in danger.

Domestic violence victims and survivors face unique challenges in this crisis. Not only do some facing eviction have no alternative but to live with their abusers, many are also now facing unemployment. Domestic violence programs already need more resources, and the coronavirus pandemic will only place more pressure on them.

I therefore request information on how you are addressing the needs of this vulnerable population during the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, please provide any information on how you are ensuring that victims and survivors will have access to food support and to housing, including rental assistance and transitional housing provided under the Violence Against Women Act. Please also explain how you will ensure that domestic violence shelters and hotlines will have the flexible resources they need during this crisis.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

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