Press Releases


Washington, April 4, 2019



Washington, D.C. – Today, the House passed H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019.  H.R. 1585 is a bipartisan, robust, long-term reauthorization. Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett had an amendment accepted to H.R. 1585 (see video). The Congresswoman released the following statement:

“The landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 ushered in transformative progress by calling for the protection of women and all Americans from violence and abuse, while working to ensure survivors have access to essential services.  Each time Congress reauthorized VAWA, they have strengthened it to improve protections and access to safety and justice for all survivors.  Since 1994, the rate of domestic violence has declined by roughly 50 percent.  However, the extent of domestic violence in the Virgin Islands remains far too high. 

“Like previous reauthorizations, H.R. 1585 makes some vital improvements to address gaps in current law, based on extensive consultation with victim service providers, law enforcement, and other experts.  One of those improvements was my amendment which doubles the available funding to the Virgin Islands and other small territories under the Sexual Assault Services Program and the Transitional Housing Assistance Program.

“According to psychologists in the Virgin Islands, a recent increase in domestic violence cases can partially be attributed to the residual stress of the disastrous hurricanes of 2017. Even before this uptick, the territory was massively under equipped to shelter and protect the victims of violence and this situation has only worsened since. There is currently one domestic violence and abuse program on St. Thomas that offers a hotline but no emergency shelter. On the island of St. Croix, there is one program that offers a hotline and emergency shelter to victims. I would like to thank these programs, the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix and the Family Resource Center on St. Thomas for their passionate and continued work in providing services and resources to the victims of abuse and their families.

"The Women's Coalition of St. Croix would like to thank Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett for her leadership and  her amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019.  Her amendment gives additional funding to help women and children who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  With violence on the rise in the territory, coupled with the extreme lack of housing, it has been extremely difficult to ensure the safety and well-being of victims and survivors.  Hopefully, this additional funding will go a long way to address the needs of victims and survivors in our community," stated Clema S. Lewis, Executive Director, Women's Coalition of St. Croix.

“This amendment and this bill will help provide additional services to the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence within the territory. The Virgin Islands has unique problems related to protecting and assisting victims of abuse including confidentiality, sensitivity and selection of options. I’m confident that with this additional funding, we can close some of the gaps that exist to improve training, education, and the availability of resources for victims and their families.”