HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut is expected to receive additional federal funding to help law enforcement and domestic violence groups around the state, which had at least 13 intimate partner deaths in 2019.
The state has averaged 14 domestic violence homicides each year over the past decade.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the extra money is included in the new federal appropriations bill, which consists of more than $500 million to fund the Violence Against Women Act for services nationwide. That's the most ever approved, he said. While Congress has yet to reauthorize the act itself, Blumenthal said the money will still be released.
“This funding is significant because it represents a response to the cries for help that come every day to agencies in Connecticut that provide services and relief for victims and survivors of domestic violence every year,” he said during a news conference at the Legislative Office Building on Friday. He noted that more than 33,000 calls for help were made to the state's abuse hotline between July 2018 and July 2019.
It's unclear how much additional funding Connecticut will ultimately receive. Last year, the state was awarded $3.6 million in federal funds to help pay for law enforcement, prosecutors, advocacy work and services.
“Every single dollar does make a difference in terms of the work that's happening,” said Karen Jarmoc, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
In Connecticut, there are 18 designated domestic violence organizations, with nearly 400 advocates, providing around-the-clock support to people facing violence from intimate partners. Jarmoc said the state's emergency domestic violence shelters function at 121% capacity all the time.
“That means that families are being put on couches, in family rooms and in children's play rooms to accommodate the need for safety when survivors and their children are seeking to leave a relationship that is volatile and dangerous,” she said. The majority of the children in these situations are under age 6.
Jarmoc said there have been 13 homicides involving intimate partners so far in 2019. Most of the victims were women. She said there are two outstanding cases that still might be confirmed as homicides.
“Given all of this really critical work that's happening on the ground, that we are still probably looking to exceed the state average in domestic violence, homicide is is disappointing,” Jarmoc said. “But this news that there are additional resources is hugely important.”