LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Agencies who support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can breathe a little easier now that the president has re-authorized an important piece of legislation.
One survivor of domestic violence said that her life might have been much different if the Violence Against Women Act didn't exist. She said without a place like the Family Crisis Center of East Texas, she would probably be dead.
"I am a survivor or domestic violence and sexual assault," the woman said.
She's a survivor, and East Texas News is protecting her identity because she escaped her abuser and found the light at the end of the tunnel - the resources at the Family Crisis Center of East Texas.
The Violence Against Women Act was established in 1994 and has been renewed three times and most recently renewed and expanded to include gays, lesbians, transgender people, Native Americans, and immigrants under its protective umbrella.
VAWA provides a crucial piece of funding for the Family Crisis Center of East Texas and other agencies that support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and it also helps to ensure victims and their families have access to the resources they need to safely rebuild their lives.
Heather Kartye, the executive director of the Family Crisis Center of East Texas, said the reauthorization of VAWA was very important for them.
"Currently, our agency does receive VAWA funding, and what that helps us do is provide life-saving services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault," Kartye said. "We're able to provide legal advocacy to victims, and that includes help with protective orders, court accompaniment. We're able to provide counseling services, free of charge to victims because of some of that funding."
"I'm thankful that this agency is here because they helped me and my children, but they are also helping others to get out of that abusive relationship situation," the domestic abuse survivor said.
This survivor is speaking out because she hopes someone watching will be able to see there is help available.
"It makes me feel good that somebody else is getting out of that," the domestic abuse survivor said. "That somebody else is alive because of this agency. There is hope."
You can find more information about the Family Crisis Center of East Texas, the services they offer and how you can get help here: http://www.familycrisiscenterofeasttexas.com/
You can also call the 24-hour crisis hotline: 1-800-828-7233