TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but that acknowledgement doesn’t mean the prevalence of this problem is understood. In 2020, Iowa’s Crime Victim Assistance programs reported serving 10,424 victims of sexual assault--nearly 29 individuals every day. It’s estimated that 82-90% of victims of sexual violence are females and that only 1 of 4 incidents is reported.
But even as the numbers grow, government funding to help victims of sexual assault and similar crimes has been drastically cut, creating daunting challenges to Chrysalis’ nonprofit partners that provide services to victims.
In May 2017, Iowa lawmakers approved a 26% cut—or $1.7 million--to the state’s crime victim services program. This decision was made even though records
from Iowa’s Attorney General showed a 43% increase in sexual assault victims (and an 18% increase in domestic violence victims) served when compared to the previous year.
Iowa lawmakers may have assumed there would be a funding increase at the federal level, but this was not the case. That same year (2017), Congress cut federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds by 17.2%, equaling about a $4 million decrease allocated to Iowa. The combined federal and state drop of $5.7 million in support to Iowa’s victim service providers was devastating.
When it’s available, VOCA is the largest source of federal funding that delivers critical services without use of taxpayer dollars. Congress created the VOCA
Fund in 1984 to deliver federal dollars to states and local programs working to help victims of crimes. Penalties and fines from federal convictions generate the funds, which are paid into the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). The fund supports services to more than 6 million victims of all crimes every year.
This year, our nonprofit partners report a reduction in federal VOCA funds of roughly 35% nationwide. read more