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Domestic abuse shelter facing financial insecurity after VAWA expiration

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Albany/HV: Domestic abuse shelter facing financial insecurity after VAWA expiration
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Congress didn't pass the Violence Against Women Act for the new year, shaking funding for many domestic abuse programs. YNN's Madeleine Rivera visited a Pittsfield abuse shelter to find out how it'll be affected.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- On a hill overlooking Pittsfield, the Elizabeth Freeman Center has been a haven for domestic abuse victims for the past thirty years. But now, it's on edge, facing financial uncertainty.

"We're starting from a deficit. If VAWA funding is not approved, we'll lose another $67,000," said Janis Broderick, executive director of the center.

Congress did not authorize the Violence Against Women Act for the new year. The law provided protection for domestic abuse victims, funding programs for them in shelters.

At the Freeman Center, some of these programs include the placement of an advocate at police departments in Pittsfield and Adams. Now, those programs are at risk.

"We don't have the resources here to continue those programs without VAWA funding. We are so bare bones here people," said Broderick.

Congress did not pass VAWA because there was dispute over its extended protections for LGBT victims, undocumented immigrants, and Native Americans. The rejection has been criticized.

"No one should have to live being beaten, raped, or terrified in a domestic terrorist situation," said Broderick.

The failure to pass a new Violence Against Women Act calls into question a $67,000 grant that the Freeman Center was approved for last October. Broderick says she's not sure what the status of this grant will be. But, she does think the timing is unfortunate, especially with the high rate of domestic abuse in Berkshire County.

"The rate of restraining orders in Berkshire County is 37 percent higher than the state average. Domestic violence hasn't decreased over the years," said Broderick.

This is the first time that the bill has not been reauthorized since it was passed in 1994.

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