Himes visits victims center as House reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act

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BRIDGEPORT -

The Violence Against Woman Reauthorization Act of 2019, co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Himes, passed the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday and now heads to the Senate.

Created in 1994, the act provides funding and grants for a variety of programs to combat domestic abuse. 

Himes and News 12 visited The Center for Family Justice today to learn about what resources they offer and what they still need. The center says it relies on the money from this act to save lives.

The Center for Family Justice provides all types of services for domestic abuse victims and their families.  One woman credits the center with saving her life. "I began to come to the realization that maybe I should commit suicide,” she told News 12. “That's how bad it was"

She was a victim of domestic violence for decades and because she is still afraid for her safety, she did not want to be identified. What this woman did want to share is how much the Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport helped her.

"They get you. These people get you,” she said. “They know what you don't see, that it's not your fault.  That you're being gaslighted, you are being knocked. Your self-esteem was going.  You think you have no strength."

Himes credits the act for helping centers like this to exist.

"Women come here and their lives are saved,” says Himes. “They are taken out of a very dangerous situation and they are given the legal help that they need, they are given the health assistance in some cases that they need, their children are protected."

Changes to the language in the act have some pushing back this year. The current law outlaws the sale of firearms to current or former spouses convicted of abuse or under a restraining order. The act's new language expands that restriction to include boyfriends or girlfriends. While the NRA strongly opposes the new language, Himes and advocates say it’s necessary.

"Statistics show that a woman who is in an abusive relationship in which there is a gun in the household is five times more likely to be killed in that situation of domestic violence," says Himes.

The Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport has a 122 percent utilization of their safe houses for adults and children fleeing abusive situations. They won't turn away a victim.  

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