Tester Secures More Than $450,000 to Combat Rural Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence in Big Horn County

Funding will help the YWCA of Billings and Tribal partners provide crisis intervention services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault

As part of his sustained push to combat violence against women, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that the YWCA of Billings—in partnership with the Big Horn County Best Beginnings Coalition, Little Big Horn College, and the Crow Tribal Domestic Violence Program—will receive $453,103 for their Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking Program.

The program has been set up to identify, assess, and appropriately respond to child, youth, and adult victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in rural communities by establishing and expanding victim services and providing crisis intervention to victims across Big Horn County.

“Rural and Native American communities, are facing a crisis of domestic violence and sexual assault—particularly against women—that is significantly higher than the rest of the United States,” said Tester. “Every Montanan, whether they live in a city or a small community, deserves to be safe under their own roof—especially with the coronavirus pandemic forcing folks to stay home. This funding will help YWCA better address the needs of victims of violence in Big Horn County, and ensure that those living in rural communities have the resources they need to stay safe and get help if they need it.”

The grant will fund a rural crisis coordinator and a rural advocate to staff a help line and provide crisis intervention, support emergency shelter and transportation assistance for victims of violence, and conduct six community trainings addressing domestic and sexual violence

Tester has championed efforts to combat sexual assault and domestic violence, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. In response to recent reports that domestic and sexual violence had increased during the pandemic, he urged his colleagues to secure additional support for victims and survivors. He is also a strong supporter of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), cosponsoring the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 which would increase protections, services, and funding for domestic violence service providers and survivors, and he continues to push Leader McConnell to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote after it passed the House of Representatives more than a year ago with bipartisan support.

As a longtime member and former chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has led the charge in the fight to secure resources for Tribes to combat sexual assault and domestic violence. He recently helped create a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Cold Case Team in Billings, and he pushed two bills aimed at improving public safety in Indian Country through the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.