Congressman Costa Calls for Increased Support for Victims of Crime, Including Sexual Assault Survivors
Fresno, CA – Today, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement regarding the critical need to better support and secure justice for victims and survivors of sexual assault and other crimes:
“The past two weeks have been incredibly difficult for our nation as a whole and especially for millions of survivors of sexual violence. The national – and highly personal – testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee was profound and powerful. Her strength and her story empowered many others to share their truth. Last Friday alone, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) reported a 728 percent increase in calls to its National Sexual Assault Hotline. In the Valley, Rape Counseling Services of Fresno reported a 30 percent increase in calls for assistance.
“One of my first actions as a member of Congress was to co-found the bipartisan Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus with Rep. Ted Poe of Texas. Our goals were to ensure that survivors of crime receive the support they need to recover as well as to change the broader understanding and approach towards serving victims and survivors. Although we have made progress, last week demonstrates that we must remain strong, determined, and unwavering in our efforts to secure justice for crime victims and survivors.
“We must support sexual assault survivors and the organizations that work around-the-clock to empower them. Our Caucus has led Congress in bipartisan efforts to enact laws that protect and expand programs that assist crime victims and survivors. We have protected the Crime Victims Fund – which is paid for with fines and fees collected from federal offenders, not taxpayers’ dollars – to enhance services for all survivors of crime. Currently, I am working to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This legislation provides federal assistance so that every survivor has access to the services to recover and local authorities have training and resources to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
“One undeniable truth rising from last week is that we must work to improve our system so survivors are not afraid to report their assault and are not revictimized in the process. Only a small percentage of survivors report a sexual assault to the police, often due to fear of being blamed or not believed. Survivors who report these heinous crimes must have full assurance that they will be treated with respect and that their allegations will be investigated professionally, impartially, and to the full extent of the law.
“To that end, I will host a community forum, ‘Giving Voices to Victims and Survivors,’ later this month to bring together crime survivors, Valley experts, victim advocates, law enforcement, and state and national victim/survivor assistance programs so we can continue to collaborate on how to best serve survivors and victims.
“The voices of survivors have been, and will continue to be, the very foundation of VAWA. These voices have driven my efforts over the past 14 years to help all victims and survivors of crime in my district and across the nation, and they continue to drive me today. If last week has taught us anything, it is that we must listen to these voices – whether they are publicly speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee or reaching out for help anonymously – to secure for them the real justice they deserve.”
The mission of the U.S. Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus is to elevate crime victim issues in Congress in a bipartisan manner without infringing on the rights of the accused and to represent and advocate before the Administration and within the U.S. Congress on behalf of crime victims and survivors. For more on the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, visit https://vrc-poe.house.gov/home.