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In 1994 Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in recognition of the severity of crimes associated with domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. VAWA was designed to improve criminal justice responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and to increase the availability of services for victims of these crimes. The federal law takes a comprehensive approach to violence against women by combining tough new penalties to prosecute offenders while implementing programs to aid the victims of such violence.
VAWA requires a coordinated community response (CCR) to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, encouraging jurisdictions to bring together players from diverse backgrounds to share information and to use their distinct roles to improve community responses to violence against women. These players include, but are not limited to: victim advocates, police officers, prosecutors, judges, probation and corrections officials, health care professionals, leaders within faith communities, and survivors of violence against women. VAWA is the only source of federal money for Sexual Assault work.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services (OCVS) works in close partnership with victim service groups, health care providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and other criminal justice professionals to develop a statewide strategic plan to improve the response of the justice system to sexual assault and domestic violence.
OCVS administers two formula grants Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors (STOP) and Sexual Assault Service Providers (SASP). OCVS is responsible for developing a statewide plan for use of the State STOP formula grant dollars and for designing subgrant programs.
OCVS also applies for and administers federal discretionary grants—such as Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforcement of Restraining Orders Program—that reduce re-victimization, hold perpetrators accountable, and increase the ability of practitioners to work collaboratively.