Sexual, domestic violence prevention gets boost

  • Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/3/2019 11:30:52 PM

State Rep. Natalie Blais has secured $650,000 in the 2020 House budget for sexual and domestic violence programs across Massachusetts.

“Sexual and domestic violence are serious issues that impact the health, safety and opportunity of all people across Massachusetts,” Blais said. “This would represent a significant investment in the prevention programs that will truly make a difference in our communities.”

Blais, D-Sunderland, delivered the news during her recent inaugural speech — she took her place as a state representative in January.

The $650,000 was nearly four times the original amount included in the House budget.

“By starting these efforts early, we can prevent gender-based violence before it occurs,” she said.

During her speech, Blais told her colleagues the 1st Franklin District faces unique challenges beyond sexual and domestic violence, including the need for additional funding for rural schools, investment in public transportation, economic development and job creation, promoting farmers and protecting farmland and broadband service.

If the $650,000 in Amendment 1148 ends up in the final 2020 budget on July 1 — the Senate also has to vote its budget and then the two will find a compromise to send to the governor — the funding will support sexual and domestic violence prevention programs that focus on teens in high-risk communities across the state. 

Blais said according to Jane Doe Ince, the only statewide sexual and domestic violence nonprofit advocacy organization, more than one in seven women have experienced rape.

Additionally, nearly one in two women and one in four men in Massachusetts have experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape, and nearly one in three women and one in five men throughout the state have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lives.

Blais said she has enjoyed getting to know her colleagues, but said she is sad to have learned that some of them have been personally affected by sexual and domestic violence.

The House budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance-us disorder services, health care and other areas, whole projecting more than a $200 million deposit into the state’s Stabilization Fund, which would bring the fund’s balance to more than $2.5 billion.

In total, 1,370 amendments were filed to the $42.7 billion Fiscal Year 2020 budget that passed in the House last week. 

She said she is proud to help cultivate a state that values respect, safety and support for all.

“I believe that budgets are moral documents,” Blais said in her speech. “They speak to our priorities and beliefs — to what we value most.”

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