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Dingell Meets with FirstStep During Domestic Violence Awareness Month

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) last week visited FirstStep to speak with staff and Executive Director Lori Kitchen-Buschel about the ongoing needs of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Michigan. FirstStep is a non-profit organization committed to meeting the needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence across Wayne County. It provides important comprehensive services such as emergency shelter, immediate crisis intervention, transitional support, and others to support survivors of violence and their children. 

“This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I’m proud to recognize the work of organizations like FirstStep that are dedicated to serving survivors every single day,” said Dingell. “In times of crisis, these organizations are often the first resources that survivors have to access important – and sometimes lifesaving – support and services.”

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic worsened domestic violence across Michigan and America,” continued Dingell. “Survivors are deserving of our full support, and we must do more to connect them with the tools they need to heal physically, emotionally, and mentally. I am thankful for FirstStep and the other organizations across Southeast Michigan who are just as committed to serving survivors in our communities. Their work makes a real difference, and I will continue working with them in our fight to end domestic violence once and for all.” 

A guide of supportive services available in Washtenaw and Wayne Counties can be accessed here. For immediate support, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or the State of Michigan Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-866-864-2338.

Dingell has long been a champion of eradicating domestic violence in communities across the United States. Since 2015, Dingell has led the introduction of the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act to close the boyfriend loophole and keep guns out of the hands of abusive dating partners and stalkers, and some of these provisions were included in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that became law in June. In September, Dingell led 62 of her colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Justice urging proper implementation of the provisions to narrow the loophole to ensure survivors of domestic violence are properly protected. 

In 2018, Dingell established the Bipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence to bring together a bipartisan group of members to identify ways to strengthen resources and protections for survivors and their children. This Congress, Dingell has led the working group alongside Reps. Debbie Lesko, Gwen Moore, and Young Kim. 

Dingell was also proud to support the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2022 which was included as part of the Omnibus appropriations package this year. This reauthorization contains groundbreaking and lifesaving provisions to strengthen and modernize VAWA, including two provisions written and led by Dingell. Among other improvements, the reauthorization expands prevention efforts, increases support and protections for survivors, and launches a national campaign to address campus sexual assault and sexual assault in the military.

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