NTF Applauds Congress for Their Support of Victims and Survivors

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (“NTF”) applauds Congress for their support for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The recently introduced bipartisan, bicameral funding bill appropriates a record $497.5 million for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for the 2019 fiscal year and releases over $3 billion from the Crime Victims Fund, including almost $170 million for Native victims. Funding for vital programs to protect victims and survivors is secure until September 30th, the end of the federal fiscal year, by which time funding for the entire government must be renewed.

VAWA’s authorization was originally slated to lapse at midnight on September 30, 2018. Congress took the unusual step of extending its authorization three times in the series of short-term bills they passed to fund the government since the end of the previous fiscal year. While VAWA will not be extended again, this does not impact its funding - money has already been appropriated for this fiscal year. As happened when VAWA was expired between 2010 and 2013, we expect Congress to continue to fund VAWA while we work with them to develop and pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization that centers victims and includes targeted fixes and modest enhancements to improve survivors’ access to safety, security, and justice.

As with other laws, only the VAWA grant program authorizations expire - the underlying law and all the provisions that are not tied to specific funding levels do not expire. All legal protections for victims and survivors continue, including protections in federally-subsidized housing, special tribal jurisdiction, and protections for immigrant victims. Grant conditions that protect survivor confidentiality and safety remain intact. 

The NTF has been working with Congress for over a year to craft and pass a strong VAWA reauthorization bill with critical enhancements, and we will continue to do this important work on behalf of victims and survivors. We rely on you and other advocates to support our work in Washington, DC by answering our call to rally when the time is right. We will be in contact as the process plays out with periodic updates and calls to activate.

ACTION ALERT: It is time to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act And we need to do it right!

As the 115th Congress comes to a close, Congress faces a number of outstanding issues -- one of which is the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA is vital to the safety of victims, survivors, and their communities; it cannot simply be checked off of Congress’s to-do list by changing the dates for existing funding, ignoring countless survivors and direct service providers asking Congress to do more. Survivors and their communities need Congress to take meaningful action.

The awareness of the scope of  sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking occurring in our nation has never been greater. Congress must pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization that invests in increased evidence-based prevention, enhances survivors’ access to safety and justice, and maintains critical protections for vulnerable communities.

If you have not already done so, contact your Members of Congress, submit an op-ed or letter-to-the editor to your local newspaper, ask leaders in your community to do the same, and use the attached social media toolkit to raise awareness!

Tell them:

  • VAWA is vital to protecting community safety, preventing violence, serving victims, and holding abusers accountable.

  • A VAWA that rolls back important protections for vulnerable communities or that fails to make important improvements identified by victims and survivors is unacceptable. Simply changing the dates on the existing funding will not address the needs of survivors.

  • VAWA has always been, and must always be, bipartisa

Contact your Senators and Representative by phone or online.


Senate: My name is [your name], and I am a constituent from [city and, if applicable, program]. The Violence Against Women Act is one of the cornerstones in America’s fight against domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. [Optional: VAWA is important to me, because . . . ] Every VAWA reauthorization has been bipartisan and responsive to the identified needs of victims and survivors. This reauthorization can be no different. I urge [your Senator’s name] to support a VAWA reauthorization that maintains critical protections for vulnerable communities, invests in evidence-based prevention, and makes meaningful changes to protect victims and survivors. Anything less, including a reauthorization that simply changes the dates on existing funding or that rolls back critical protections for vulnerable communities, is unacceptable.

House of Representatives: My name is [your name], and I am a constituent from [city and, if applicable, program]. The Violence Against Women Act is one of the cornerstones in America’s fight against domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.  [Optional: VAWA is important to me, because . . . ]  I urge [your Representative’s name] to support H.R.6545, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2018, which maintains critical protections for vulnerable communities, invests in evidence-based prevention, and makes meaningful changes to protect victims and survivors. A reauthorization that simply change the dates on existing funding or a reauthorization that rolls back critical protections for vulnerable communities, is unacceptable.


Check with your local newspaper, but an op-ed is usually approximately 750 words, and a letter to the editor is typically 250 words or fewer. Submit materials yourself and encourage community leaders to do so, too! Don’t forget to mention your Senators and Representative by name, just to be sure they don’t miss your letter! Some key points to bring up:

  • VAWA has always been and must always be bipartisan;

  • Congress must pass a reauthorization with meaningful improvements. Neither a reauthorization that just changes the dates nor a reauthorization that rolls back critical protections for immigrants and nondiscrimination provisions is acceptable;

  • Your story or a story from your community;

  • VAWA is effective and efficient:

    • Since VAWA was passed in 1994, domestic violence against women has decreased by almost two-thirds;[1]

    • In its first five years alone, VAWA saved almost $15 billion in averted social costs, not adjusted for inflation;[2]

  • VAWA reauthorization should (choose one or more and expand on it):

    • Invest in evidence-based prevention

    • Include provisions to hold non-Natives who prey on Native women accountable

    • Provide new resources to law enforcement to develop more trauma-informed approaches

    • Provide law enforcement with more resources to enforce court orders and prevent intimate partner and law enforcement homicides

    • Improve protections for survivors in federally subsidized housing;

    • Support victims and survivors who need help rebuilding financially after experiencing violence

    • Address the needs of underserved communities

    • Improve the healthcare responses to the four crimes



● Congress must listen to the #DomesticViolence field and protect Native Americans with enhanced tribal provisions in VAWA! #VAWA4ALL #tribalVAWA

● Our tribal sisters have come forward and said they need important improvements in VAWA. Include tribal provisions in #VAWA18 or it won't be a #VAWA4ALL #TribalVAWA #VAWA4Natives

●  We cannot ignore the voices of Native American survivors of #DomesticViolence & #SexualAssault. Include tribal provisions in #VAWA18 to make sure that ALL survivors of violence have access to safety and justice. #VAWA4ALL #TribalVAWA #VAWA4Natives

● Abusers often target marginalized populations, believing they'll get away with committing #DomesticViolence & #SexualAssault. We must not let this continue to happen to Native American survivors! Include tribal provisions in #VAWA18 & hold abusers responsible for their crimes. #VAWA4ALL #tribalVAWA

●  56% of Native women experience sexual violence within their lifetime. 97% of them are victimized at the hands of a non-Native perpetrator. We cannot ignore the problems of #DomesticViolence & #SexualAssault on tribal lands. Congress must include tribal provisions in #VAWA18 and protect Native Americans! #VAWA4ALL #tribalVAWA

[1] Truman, J. L., & Morgan, R. E. (2014). Nonfatal domestic violence, 2003 - 2012. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ndv0312.pdf.

[2] Clark, K. A., Biddle, A. K., & Martin, S. L. (2002). A cost-benefit analysis of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Violence Against Women, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1177/10778010222183143.

Read NTF Statement RE: Title IX Draft Regulation

Today, the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence released the following statement re: the publication by the U.S. Department of Education of a draft regulation regarding Title IX:

The regulation proposed by the U.S. Department of Education betrays the trust of all students, P-12 and in higher education. It is the responsibility of the Department to ensure that all students can learn safely in an environment that is free of harassment and discrimination. Instead of upholding this crucial obligation, the Department of Education has proposed a regulation that that puts all students at risk. 

The proposed regulation would weaken Title IX’s protections by narrowing the definition of sexual harassment to allow schools to ignore many instances of campus violence. It would also protect schools by limiting when they must respond, and making it more difficult for students to come forward when they experience sexual harassment or assault. The bottom line is that these changes will make schools less safe for students, and thereby fail to uphold the Department of Education’s responsibilities under Title IX. 

The proposed regulation would also permit religiously-affiliated schools to decline to submit a request or notice for a Title IX exemption to the Department of Education on their institutional policies, and thus, hide from students and parents whether it intends to enforce Title IX’s non-discrimination mandate. 

We urge the Department of Education to withdraw this problematic regulation, and to commit to a transparent process that engages survivors, makes campuses safer, and roots out and eliminates gender bias, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Condemns Trump Administration’s Efforts to Harm the Transgender Community

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF), comprised of national, state, tribal, territorial, and local organizations representing thousands of advocates and others working to end domestic violence and sexual assault, writes to express our outrage at this heartless, extremist attack by the Trump administration in their expressed intent to narrowly define gender as a “biological, immutable condition” within Title IX, according to a leaked memo obtained by the New York Times. Transgender people experience unconscionably high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence and attacks on their rights and this level of dehumanization only makes them more vulnerable to assault. Further, if this definition is introduced into regulations, it will not only harm millions of transgender people, but also many more, including making it easier to fire or harass anyone who is perceived to not conform to rigid gender stereotypes.

We affirm our commitment to transgender inclusive policies as core to our mission to end sexual and domestic violence and reiterate that narratives that peddle anti-trans policies as necessary for protecting women and children are simply false.  Further, given the high rates of violence that transgender youth experience in this country, this administration efforts to void Title IX protections is especially concerning. This administration is making it more clear than ever that it is willing to disregard science, medicine, and the law in order to push its own dogma. NTF is fighting with and for the transgender community, and we will do everything we can to uphold and value the rights and safety of every transgender person, including advocating to ensure this memo does not go into effect. We are strong and resilient, and we will not give up.

Click here to read the National Consensus Statement of Anti-Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Organizations in Support of Full and Equal Access for the Transgender Community signed by over 300 domestic and sexual violence organizations across the country.

For more information, contact Terra Russell Slavin, Deputy Director of Policy and Community Building, Los Angeles LGBT Center (Tslavin@lalgbtcenter.org) or Emily Waters (ewaters@avp.org), Policy Consultant, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

Statement Condemning Contemptible Behavior of National Leadership Toward Kavanaugh Accusers

We are appalled and outraged that the Senate Judiciary Committee leadership has released a statement about comments of a sexual nature allegedly made by Julie Swetnick. Such a statement is unacceptable in all events, but particularly because it attempts to smear someone who has not had the opportunity to be interviewed by the FBI.  The release of this statement violates the intent of the Rape Shield Rule drafted by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 and voted into law by Congress in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994. This federal rule is meant to safeguard the victim against the invasion of privacy, potential embarrassment and sexual stereotyping that is associated with public disclosure of intimate sexual details and the infusion of sexual innuendo into the factfinding process. The Senate Judiciary Committee has posted this statement on its website, in violation of the spirit of its own Rule.

In a sworn statement, Ms. Swetnick states she was sexually assaulted. Yet to date, she has not been interviewed by the FBI. Nevertheless, Senate leadership has engaged in a no-holds-barred personal attack on her.  It is not unusual for a survivor to describe an experience of sexual violence in ways that do not reveal the full reality of the experience or to try and normalize the experience. However, even aside from these very common reactions, it is unthinkable that the Senate Judiciary Committee would have released this statement publicly and attacked her in this way.

We are equally appalled and outraged by the President’s mocking of Dr. Blasey Ford on Tuesday. This behavior marks a new, and previously unimaginable, low point.  Through the tireless work of survivors, advocates and activists over the past decades, we have made progress in our national response to sexual assault.  Yet it seems the current majority leadership is bound and determined to set us back decades in our effort to help survivors feel comfortable coming forward.

We remind the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and all leaders that the country is watching. Women are watching as members and staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee try to shame a victim because of her alleged sexual history. Our children are watching as people who are supposed to be role models cheapen their offices and smear victims in an attempt to distract from a legitimate inquiry into the fitness of a Supreme Court candidate. Survivors are watching as people trivialize their experiences, mock them and make what was already an excruciatingly difficult decision to come forward that much more difficult.

This behavior is completely unacceptable. Ms. Swetnick, Dr. Ford, and all relevant witnesses must be interviewed, and these personal attacks and victim-blaming tactics must cease.   

For more information, contact Terri Poore at terri@endsexualviolence.org or Kiersten Stewart at kstewart@futureswithoutviolence.org.

VAWA Did Not Expire on September 30th

The Violence Against Women Act did not expire on September 30. Many stakeholders have expressed significant concerns about the expiration of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the impact the expiration would have on victims and survivors, particularly those in America’s most vulnerable communities, domestic violence and sexual assault programs, and many others. While Congress must act immediately to reauthorize VAWA with targeted fixes and modest enhancements, only grants need reauthorization - the underlying law, including special tribal jurisdiction, protections for immigrant survivors, housing protections, civil rights protections, and similar provisions do not require reauthorization. This being said, VAWA has not expired - in an unnecessary ploy to allow Congress to avoid taking meaningful action until after the midterm elections, Congress extended its authorization until December 7.

Moreover, funding for VAWA is maintained at Fiscal Year 2018 levels as part of the continuing resolution funding the Department of Justice. It is currently funded through December 7. We fully expect Congress to finalize the Fiscal Year 2019 by December 7, and, as has historically been the case, to continue to fund VAWA in future appropriations, whether or not it has expired. Congress frequently funds unauthorized programs - approximately 25% of federal programs are currently unauthorized, including the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  

We call on Congress to pass a bipartisan reauthorization bill that bolsters America’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, closing gaps in previous iterations of VAWA and responding to emerging issues identified by direct service providers, survivors, and other experts - and reauthorize grant programs for another five years with an increased investment in prevention. VAWA has always been, and must always be, a bipartisan commitment to improve access to safety and justice, to prevent future violence, and to uphold the dignity and autonomy of all victims and survivors.

Public Charge regulation harms immigrant families and puts victims of sexual assault and domestic violence at risk

The Department of Homeland Security posted on its website Saturday what is likely to be a proposed rule putting immigrant families, including children, at risk if they use public programs to escape abuse and meet basic needs like food, housing, and health care. This cruel rule would put many families in the untenable position of having to choose between using critical programs available to them or risk reuniting with their loved ones. The proposal would undermine efforts by victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to secure essential services that enable them to escape from or overcome abuse.

The proposed rule radically changes the “public charge” provision by expanding the range of programs and supports that can be counted against an immigrant victim applying for a visa or green card, and setting up strict disqualification criteria that will harshly impact victims. Advocates are seeing the chilling effects of this policy as more and more immigrants and citizens alike, including victims and their families, are already foregoing critical services.

Many victims seeking certain forms of immigration status are exempt from public charge, including victims who are refugees and asylees or victims seeking status through the T (trafficking) or U (crime victim) visa process, status as abused or neglected children (SIJS), or status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). However, victims and their family members who do not seek immigration status in those categories will be harmed as a consequence of an expanded public charge rule.

“This rule is yet another example of the Administration undermining critical immigration protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Grace Huang, Policy Director at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. “If the goal of this inhumane proposal is to target immigrant families, sow fear in immigrant communities, and increase human suffering, then job done. We strongly oppose any change to the public charge rule which makes it more difficult for survivors of

Media Contacts:

domestic violence or sexual assault to access critical protections they need to escape or recover from abuse.”

“This policy is about inflicting trauma and cruelty on children and families,” said Kiersten Stewart, Director of Public Policy for Futures Without Violence. “We should be doing the exact opposite – helping families escape abuse and heal from trauma so they can survive and thrive”

Not only does the public charge rule undermine federal and state policies to support victims by discouraging them from accessing critical services, the proposed rule exacerbates the harmful impacts of the abuse by keeping them trapped in abusive relationships, or undermining their ability to reunite with supportive family members if they leave the abuse. Particularly when minimum wage work places families well below the poverty level, safety-net benefits help survivors afford the basics, such as food, housing, and healthcare, and to rebuild their lives after violence. Access to services and economic supports help victims make the difficult decision whether and how they can afford to leave a dangerous situation, and in planning how to keep themselves and their children healthy, well, and housed. In addition, access to health and counseling resources are critical for the long-term recovery from the trauma that victims have experienced. Without sufficient resources, victims are either compelled back into an abusive relationship, or face destitution and homelessness. The impacts on victims and their children have long term implications for the health and safety of our communities at large.

The National Task Force to End Sexual & Domestic Violence (NTF) is joining hundreds of organizations around the country to comment on the impact of the rule and encouraging concerned members of the public to comment by mail or through the federal website at www.regulations.gov.

Media Contacts:

Charlie McAteer, 917-696-1321, charlie@frontflipchange.com
Grace Huang, 206-420-7369, ghuang@api-gbv.org
Kiersten Stewart, 202-595-7383, kstewart@futureswithoutviolence.org
Archi Pyati, 571-356-9493, archip@tahirih.org


Letter to Senate Leadership RE: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

September 21, 2018


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley


Dear Senators:

As you know, the member organizations of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF) represent millions of survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, the professionals who serve these survivors, the faith organizations that support them, the schools that educate them, and the businesses and communities that care about them throughout the United States and its Territories. The NTF has worked for twenty-four years to ensure that federal, tribal, state, territorial, and local governments and communities address the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. We are dedicated to keeping survivors safe and free from continuing trauma, while holding perpetrators accountable.  One of the primary tools we have to do our work is the Violence Against Women Act. We write now to apprise you of our intention to disengage from negotiations over VAWA reauthorization, and of the important reasons for this decision.

VAWA’s enactment in 1994 was a watershed moment for our nation. Its passage meant that our federal government finally acknowledged that domestic and sexual violence cause tremendous harm to individuals and society, and allocated resources to helping victims, improving the response of courts, prosecutors and law enforcement, and holding perpetrators accountable. Millions of people are better off as a result.

It’s time – way past time – to do much more to end this violence, and to protect our communities. That means investing more in prevention. That means increasing access to justice and safety for Native women. That means holding perpetrators accountable rather than punishing victims, and improving enforcement of protective orders. That means reducing homicides by ending abusers’ easy access to firearms. That means ensuring victims have access to safe housing and economic stability. That means reauthorizing VAWA with modest but meaningful improvements that enhance our nation’s response to these heinous crimes. That means moving forward - never backwards and never remaining static. This has been the trajectory of VAWA over the past twenty-four years: each time it has been reauthorized in a bipartisan manner with improvements to continue to enhance our nation’s response and prevention efforts.

The Steering Committee of the NTF has been working with community stakeholders and Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle for more than two years to develop and promote the best possible VAWA reauthorization bill for 2018.

However, we have grave concerns about the way the Senate Judiciary committee, under current leadership, has failed to demonstrate the lessons learned through the implementation of VAWA over the past twenty-four years. If the committee is not willing to engage in a process that upholds the dignity and safety of a person who has come forward to report that she was a victim of sexual assault, then they cannot pretend to care about the reauthorization of VAWA.  We will only engage in discussions with those members of Congress committed to doing this work with integrity; with those who not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk—regardless of party.  

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s deeply troubling and highly credible allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, unwillingly made public, have put the issues of victim autonomy and safety, trauma-informed response, and proper investigation and assessment at center stage for the nation.

This, of all times, is the moment for your offices to demonstrate the great progress we have made as a country in our response to victims of gender-based violence. This is the moment for you to show that you are serious about implementing best practices for addressing sexual assault, and that you are committed to the work that VAWA makes possible in communities across the country. You could have—you should have—set an example for our country in your treatment of Professor Ford and her allegations. As subject matter experts, we have been available to you for advice and consultation for months, and we would have gladly assisted. 

Instead, your actions and comments in the past week have taken us back 25 years, as if VAWA never existed, as if all of the hard-won, evidence-based, best practices we have invested in as a nation were for naught. How can Congress legislate a coordinated community response for the nation, yet fail to live up to its own mandate?

This moment has become a crucible. It’s a test of our progress. Do we start by believing victims of sexual assault and treating them with dignity, or don’t we? So far, Senate leaders are failing that test. Prejudging the outcome of the hearing. Sympathizing with her perpetrator. Attacking her credibility. The public vitriol has been even louder and more toxic. She now must live in fear for her own safety and that of her children, and has had to flee her home and hire security. 

These attacks need to stop now. They send a message to every victim of sexual violence that their pain doesn’t matter, that they do not deserve justice, that – for them – fair treatment is out of reach. This will only serve to drive victims into the shadows and further embolden abusers.  

This is not a case of “he said, she said” – Professor Ford provided a detailed account, along with therapist notes from six years ago, and passed a lie detector test.  More corroborating evidence may be available if an investigation is undertaken. Yet she has faced death threats and has had to endure suspicion, ridicule, defamation, and scorn. Her identity was revealed without her consent, her motives have been questioned and her credibility has been attacked.  And now she’s being told effectively that she must be put on trial – immediately — before there is even a cursory independent investigation that could support her report.

No one is suggesting the committee ought to simply accept an allegation. In fact, as advocates, we are urging you to conduct a thorough investigation. But no fair investigation begins with attacking and trying to discredit the alleged victim. Congress must enlist the advice from experts to ensure they are educated in how to engage in trauma-informed questioning of Professor Ford. She is NOT on trial. She is not alleged to have done anything wrong. She is a person with important information about a man to whom you are about to offer a lifetime appointment on our nation’s highest court.

So, what should the process look like instead? As we explained in our September 18 letter to Senators Grassley and Feinstein, we propose three ground rules:

1.     First, consult with experts on sexual violence and trauma now. What you learn will help you make this process fair. Any hearing must include expert witnesses.  

2.     Second, conduct a comprehensive, bipartisan investigation. The notion that she should be cross-examined by Judge Kavanaugh’s attorney, interviewed by Senate staff with no training in sexual assault investigations, or called to testify with just a few days’ notice and told to take it or leave it, is insulting. It’s not a search for the truth; it’s a strategy to win a political game. Recognize that she is being traumatized again by this entire process, and needs support.

3.     Third, adhere to basic tenets of a trauma-informed approach:

·       Provide Professor Ford as much input as possible into the time, date and format of any questioning;

·       Ensure a safe and comfortable environment;

·       Allow her to have support people with her and to take breaks as needed;

·       Provide her with clear information about the process and allow her to ask questions and ask for clarification as needed;

·       Repudiate personal attacks on Professor Ford;

·       Refrain from inaccurate, stereotypical assumptions that have been refuted by research, such as suggestions that delayed reports of sexual assault are not credible or gaps in memory suggest dishonesty or emotions undermine credibility. None of that is true, as extensive research on the neurobiology of trauma has revealed.

Finally, we want Senators and the nation to understand that this is much bigger than a single Supreme Court nominee. This is about the 15-year-old girl who finds herself hiding in the bathroom, terrified. She is thinking “Is this how I will be treated if I come forward?” And the 17-year-old boy who finds himself emboldened to take without consent? He too is watching, and learning.

In this very public arena, with these incredibly high stakes, we need to get this right. What the Senate does next will send a message to victims and offenders everywhere, whether or not you intend to send a message.  And what will that message be? 

Justice demands a fair process that treats Professor Ford far better than with the derision, scorn, and humiliation to which Professor Hill was subjected 27 years ago.

 Justice demands that we respect that Professor Ford is a survivor of trauma, and that the Senate Judiciary Committee hear from experts on the lasting impact of trauma on survivors.

Justice demands that the hearing process be paused while the FBI reopens its investigation and talks to any witnesses with knowledge that bears on the information that Professor Ford has provided.

And finally, justice demands that the American people have confidence not only in the integrity and honesty of those who sit on the highest court, but also those responsible for giving their “advice and consent” to the President, and the process by which they give it. 

Senators, you can’t send that message with your words – you can only send it with your actions.

For more information, please contact Terri Poore at terri@endsexualviolence.org.


The Steering Committee of National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

NTF Letter to Senators RE: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

September 18, 2018


The Honorable Chuck Grassley                             The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Chairman                                                                   Ranking Member
Senate Judiciary Committee                                              Senate Judiciary Committee
135 Hart Senate Office Building                            331 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510                                          Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:

The member organizations of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF) represent millions of survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, the professionals who serve these survivors, the faith organizations that support them, the schools that educate them, and the businesses and communities that care about them throughout the United States and territories. The NTF has worked for twenty years to ensure that federal, tribal, state, and local governments and communities address the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.  We are dedicated to keeping survivors safe and free from continuing trauma, while holding perpetrators accountable. 

We write to express our opposition to the reported new process for assessing Judge Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve as a Supreme Court Justice given recent reports of his sexual assault against a fellow high school student. We understand the Judiciary Committee’s keen interest in speaking to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who shared her story with a Member of Congress earlier this summer. However, we respectfully request that you consult with her as to the best time and manner for her to speak with you.

Importantly, with regard to your process, Dr.  Ford is not on trial.  She is a survivor of sexual assault who may or may not choose to share her story publicly. Your process is not a trial. It is an effort to gather information about the fitness of a man poised to receive a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. As advocates for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, we must strongly request you treat her in a victim-centered, trauma-informed manner.



We ask that you slow down the nomination process and allow a comprehensive, bipartisan investigation of the allegations out of the public eye. Dr. Ford was courageous in sharing her story. We are outraged to learn that some are suggesting she be cross-examined at an upcoming hearing by Judge Kavanaugh’s attorney; speak on the phone or be interviewed by staff about the incident; and/or be immediately called to testify before the committee. This suggests a rushed, adversarial process designed to intimidate or discredit her. Not only is this problematic for your process, it would also be deeply traumatizing for any survivor. A thorough investigation, wherein she is listened to objectively and any other relevant witnesses are spoken to, must be completed before any hearing is scheduled.

We strongly encourage you to consult with experts on the issues of sexual violence and trauma before deciding how to proceed with a future public hearing and to include expert witnesses on these issues at any public hearing.

Finally, we urge you to adhere to some basic tenets of a trauma-informed approach. For example:

·      Providing Dr. Ford as much input as possible into the time, date, and format of questioning.

·      Ensuring a safe and comfortable environment (emotionally and physically) for any questioning or hearing.

·      Allowing Dr.  Ford to have support people with her and take breaks as needed.

·      Repudiating any personal attacks on Dr. Ford.

·      Providing clear information to Dr. Ford about the process and encouraging and allowing her to ask questions and ask for clarification as needed ahead of time and throughout the process.

·      Refraining from inaccurate, stereotypical assumptions and negative judgments that have been refuted by research such as a suggestions that delayed reports of sexual assault are not credible; attacking credibility based on gaps in memory; and suggesting emotional presentation reflects on credibility.

Thank you for considering our requests. We stand ready to assist you in ensuring the process is fair. Please contact Terri Poore at terri@endsexualviolence with any questions.


The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

NTF Statement: Senate Must Delay Vote for SCOTUS Nominee

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF) calls on Congress to postpone the vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court until a comprehensive, bipartisan, and respectful investigation into the allegations raised by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has been completed. Dr. Blasey Ford has indicated, through counsel, that she is prepared to testify publicly, and her voice should be heard before Congress does anything further relating to the Kavanaugh nomination.

The member organizations of the NTF represent millions of survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, the professionals who serve these survivors, the faith organizations that support them, the schools that educate them, and the businesses and communities that care about them throughout the United States and territories. The NTF has worked for twenty years to ensure that federal, tribal, state, and local governments and communities address the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.  We are dedicated to keeping survivors safe and free from continuing trauma, while holding perpetrators accountable. 

Our national culture still fails to recognize the impact of these crimes on survivors. On too many occasions, survivors are blamed for the crimes they have suffered. On too many occasions, survivors’ personal lives are upended and subjected to often prurient scrutiny, exposing them to re-victimizing trauma. On too many occasions, offenders are not held accountable and worse, receive more support and empathy than the victims of their crimes. It is no wonder that so many survivors hesitate to come forward.

As we all learned on Sunday, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor, provided confidential information to Senator Feinstein in the form of a letter alleging that Judge Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when both of them were in high school. She provided Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Senator Feinstein with evidence related to her statement, but also asked that both lawmakers keep the information confidential, out of fear of “annihilation” at the hands of Congress and the media. 

Senator Feinstein’s and Congresswoman Eshoo’s offices each had an important policy of providing confidentiality to victims of crime, in order to ensure their safety and to protect them from trauma, and so neither office released any information they received from Dr. Blasey Ford. We applaud their decision.

Yet even though Congresswoman Eshoo and Senator Feinstein honored Dr. Blasey Ford’s request for confidentiality, others did not, and her story was leaked to the media.  And as public speculation increased, Dr. Blasey Ford has said she realized that her wish to keep the information confidential was hopeless. As the Washington Post reported on Sunday:

“As the story snowballed, Ford said, she heard people repeating inaccuracies about her and, with the visits from reporters, felt her privacy being chipped away. Her calculation changed.

“These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid,” she said, explaining her decision to come forward. “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”

Those last six words of her statement are painfully familiar to survivors of sexual assault and the victim advocates who help them.

Again and again, we have seen the vilification of women who come forward to share their experiences of violence at the hands of powerful men. Many survivors do not want to make their identities public, because they expect to be excoriated and re-victimized by complete strangers in the media and on Twitter, Facebook, in emails, or in text messages.

Now that the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has come forward publicly, it is imperative that the Senate allow time for her credible allegations to be fully investigated by postponing the vote on Judge Kavanaugh. Survivors throughout our nation are watching to see how this is handled, and as victim advocates, we urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to treat Dr. Ford with the respect and consideration she deserves.


For more information, please contact Terri Poore at terri@endsexualviolence.org.