A long range plan (LRP) offers an opportunity for programs to reflect on the current state of the movement and lay out a clear vision for the future. Through this plan’s development, Wisconsin domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) programs reflected on historical trends, identified present needs, and engaged with emerging ideas and practices in order to determine the direction of future anti-violence work. The plan’s impact ranges from funding and public policy, to how leaders and stakeholders within the movement understand the anti-violence landscape. It is intended to help all involved focus on priorities for services to address DV and SA as we collectively imagine and co-create violence-free futures.
Wisconsin DV advocacy programs and stakeholders have conducted LRPs on a six-year basis, most recently in the 2014-2020 Long Range Plan for a Safe Wisconsin. As part of this process, recommendations related to funding and policy priorities for the DV field were solicited from statewide and local advocacy programs and stakeholders. This has allowed those working in the field – guided by the identified needs of survivors – to inform DV work across Wisconsin.
Historically, SA programs were left out of the process. Instead, with both End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin (End Abuse) and the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse focusing on funding and public policy, the focus of previous plans was on funding priorities for DV work. In the current plan, we mark a needed change from this exclusion. As a result, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA) was included in the creation of this 2023-2029 LRP, which is ultimately intended to guide statewide anti-violence advocacy relating to DV, SA, and the many overlapping aspects of these forms of violence.
This plan is also influenced by the state of the anti-violence movements. While this work began and was led by Black and Indigenous women, the modern anti-violence movement has long pushed out Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC), and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Two Spirit (LGBTQ2S) individuals, impacting not only survivors, but also advocates. This plan also comes at a time of heightened awareness of the intersection of racism and interpersonal violence. In 2020, End Abuse and WCASA joined a national movement of DV and SA coalitions called The Moment of Truth. This long overdue statement acknowledges how white leadership in this movement has failed BIPOC survivors, leaders, and organizations. Beyond just a statement, it has served guidepost for our work and this plan.
It is important to note that the plan has been developed over many years and is now being released during a funding crisis. The critical federal funding sources programs rely upon for DV and SA services have been drastically cut. Programs expect reductions in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding over the next few years, which could have devastating consequences in Wisconsin.
The impacts could be particularly harmful for SA services, which are funded at significantly lower levels when compared to DV services. When given the choice of funding DV or SA, dual programs commonly prioritize DV.
Funding challenges also exist at the state level, related to DCF Basic Services Grant. In 2022, DCF made a change to the Basic Services Grant funding stream by switching from a guaranteed funding allocation to a competitive process. Many mainstream DV programs reliably received this funding without competing with other programs in a typical grant process. Relatively newer and often culturally specific programs did not receive this funding.
Switching to a competitive grant process meant that all programs in Wisconsin were able to apply for the Basic Services Grant for the first time. This rebalance was long due; however, the total funding distribution for programs did not change. These events further highlight what we’ve known for decades in this movement: there is not enough funding to meet the basic needs of DV and SA survivors in Wisconsin.