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Sen. Tester Asks Congress For Continued Support For Survivors of Violence

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One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

On Thursday, a panel of community members, working to put an end to domestic violence gathered in Bozeman with Senator Jon Tester to emphasize how important community involvement is to stopping violence.

Elizabeth Scholl was a victim of domestic violence when she was living in a rural community in Minnesota.

"I lived in terror and when you live in terror I couldn't figure out how to get out, then I was stuck, then I was isolated," said Scholl.

After five years, the abuse ended in 1990 after her perpetrator threatened to shoot her with a 12-gauge shotgun.

"I stood there and thought how did I get here, am I crazy? Why is this happening to me and just then two people drove up the driveway and I yelled take me to town," said Scholl.

Haven is a non-profit that works to stop domestic violence in Gallatin County. For more than 35 years, the organization has had a model in place that isolated victims and kept them in a confidential location.

But, leaders say they are working to change. The organization just purchased three acres of land in Bozeman to build a community center for its participants.

"A place where everyone is welcomed, where we can hold classes and where we can really get the community educated in preventing domestic violence and violence everywhere," said Erica Coyle,  Haven Development Director.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed in 2005 works to stop domestic violence, domestic dating, sexual assault and stalking.

In 2013, Montana received more than $8 million in VAWA funding to help organizations like Haven.

On Thursday, Senator Jon Tester is working to protect women and children who are survivors of violence.

He has sent two separate letters to legislation asking for continued committed support for the VAWA and the Victims of Child Abuse Act, an act passed in 1990 to provide funding to local child advocacy centers that serve child abuse survivors.

"Not only do we have to authorize that money, we've got to put the money where our mouth is and fund the programs," said Tester.

Tester said if we work together, we can help eliminate domestic violence in Montana.

"It's occurring too often and we've got to figure out ways to eliminate it," said Tester.

To view testers letters of supports for the two acts, visit Senator Jon Tester's website.

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