The American Rescue Plan and Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention
President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 this month, providing financial and structural support to individuals and communities to better recover from and fight the spread of COVID-19. This relief package also included several provisions to support sexual and intimate partner violence programs and survivors.
While we continue to endure the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased risk of trauma, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides a glimmer of hope and real relief that has implications for preventing sexual and intimate partner violence. Read below for some examples of how the American Rescue Plan contributes to sexual and intimate partner violence prevention:
Individual Stimulus Checks
Although eligibility for this round of stimulus payments was different than for previous stimulus checks, many will receive much needed individual financial assistance. News outlets and survivors have reported some pitfalls with people who abuse controlling and taking survivors’ stimulus funds. However, as more research emerges about the efficacy of economic supports to prevent sexual and intimate partner violence in the United States, internationally, researchers have found a relationship between cash transfer programs and reducing the risk of sexual and intimate partner violence. Stimulus checks to support individuals and families during COVID-19 can function similarly, too.
Financial Support for Families with Children
In addition to the stimulus checks that provide additional assistance for those with children, this COVID relief package also includes an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Experts predict that this could cut child poverty in half. Child poverty increases the risk of adverse childhood experiences, which also contribute to an increased risk of sexual and intimate partner violence. Reducing child poverty can prevent sexual and intimate partner violence.
Support for Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence Programs
Support for sexual and intimate partner violence programs include $198 million in available grants to support rape crisis centers; a $180 million supplement to the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) fund, with an additional 10% of those funds going to support Indigenous tribes; $49.5 million for a new culturally-specific program through the Department of Health and Human Services to address the needs of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors; $2 million for the National Domestic Violence Hotline; and $1 million for the Stronghearts Native Helpline. This influx of funding to the movement to end sexual and intimate partner violence is critical to maintaining supportive services, especially in a time where sexual and intimate partner violence advocates are meeting an increased demand in resources with limited funding. An infographic from RALIANCE shows the precarious nature of prevention programs during times of inadequate funding: “When rape crisis centers are underfunded, they can’t meet the needs of sexual assault survivors, and prevention programs are sidelined.” Well-funded rape crisis centers and domestic violence programs can maintain or expand vital prevention programs and reduce their communities’ risk of experiencing violence.
An extension of unemployment insurance, SNAP benefits, housing resources, emergency assistance, equity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution and more are some of the other social safety nets that support survivors and have implications for preventing sexual and intimate partner violence. The past year has been a horrific event for individuals, families, and communities, and exposed the systems and structures that create vulnerability and inequity in COVID-19 and in experiences of violence. However, this bill provides hope and necessary, crucial support for both responding to and preventing sexual and intimate partner violence.
Learn more about the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and its impacts on sexual and intimate partner violence here. VAWnet has a recent TA question of the month connecting economic support and violence prevention, available here. Below are previous PreventConnect blogs and web conferences with more information connecting economic supports to sexual and intimate partner violence prevention:
- Disproportionate Economic Impacts of COVID-19 & Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention
- Messaging the Connections: Explaining the links between strengthening economic supports and preventing sexual and intimate partner violence
- From Paid Leave to Rent Stabilization: Research and practice on strengthening economic security for violence prevention
- Economic security and safe relationships: Pathways and actions for partner violence prevention
- Gender, Income, and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention
- Addressing Poverty to Prevent Violence
- Getting Started on Supporting Economic Opportunity for Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention
- Organizing for Economic Opportunity: Strategies to Improve Economic Opportunities for Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention