President Obama signs an expansion of the Violence Against Women Act Thursday.
The President says the bill is a victory for advocates and survivors of domestic violence.
Originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized since, the act provides support for organizations that serve domestic violence victims.
The expansion strengthens the protections for victims who are attacked on tribal land, and also makes clear that lesbians, gays and immigrants should have equal access to the law's programs.
Agencies that support victims of domestic violence in northeast Wisconsin say the reauthorization and expansion of the act is a huge victory.
"It's really been a great asset to victims of domestic violence for a number of years and it was just kind of hanging out there so we're glad that it's done and there's new provisions in it that will strengthen things for survivors," said Beth Schnorr, Executive Director, of Harbor House in Appleton.
The latest version of the ACT also provides funding opportunities for crisis lines, shelters, and educational campaigns.
Julie Fevola, Executive Director of the Christine Ann Center in Oshkosh. said, "There's safe exchange programs, there's programs on university campuses to help fund violence prevention. There's programs that directly go to victim service providers to help victims. There's a lot of different avenues that this money is being used to keep victims safe."
Schnorr added, "It can mean their life. That's what it comes down too."
In Northeast Wisconsin Schnorr says the expanded provision pertaining to Native Americans will likely have the most impact.
Basically it allows non Native perpetrators of Native American women who live on reservations to be tried in tribal courts.
"Sometimes Native women who were being victimized by non Native perpetrators there was no accountability. They could get off the reservation. They wouldn't be held accountable. So, that's a really good provision in the law," said Schnorr.
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