The Violence Against Women Act has passed in the U.S. Senate, but still needs the House to re-activate funds dedicated to helping women in crisis.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp co-sponsored the bill, and is traveling across North Dakota to discuss the continued need for many domestic violence programs.
Amber Schatz reports from her first stop at United Tribes Technical College.
The Violence Against Women Act was first passed in '94--in Heidi Heitkamp's first few years serving as Attorney General in North Dakota.
After hearing from several agencies, the North Dakota senator says it's needed now more than ever.
"My biggest concern is all of this collaboration, all of this progress that has been made over the last 20 years will begin to dissipate, evaporate, we have great relationships, but those relationships are dependent on multiple trainings." says Heitkamp.
Prosecutors, law enforcement and workers from crisis centers all weigh in their overwhelmed programs, but one individual may have made the most impact with her story.
"I also had a protection order through the reservation, and it followed me and saved my life from my escape there to here to Bismarck." says Samantha, a woman who escaped her abuser and was invited to speak by Heitkamp.
"You heard Samantha tell her story, without VAWA that would not have happened, there wouldn't have been this transfer of protection orders..." says Heitkamp.
One sheriff says they respond to domestic violence calls on an almost a daily basis.
Another speaker says the domestic violence is at a crisis level on reservations.
Reasons why Senator Heitkamp says they' can't give an inch.
"One of the reasons women don't leave is economically it's very challenging, how can we provide that support, we do have some work to do." says Sen. Heitkamp.
"I commend you for supporting it and going after it, because women like me need that." says Samantha.
Heitkamp says this is testimony and proof that programs like this one, can work.
"This funding, making a stand as a public policy, then funding it and giving it to people, good people on the ground who believe that all people should grow up in homes free of violence, it makes a difference." says Sen. Heitkamp.
Heitkamp says her next step is dealing with the civil side-- of domestic abuse.
Providing services to help victims get their life back in order.
Heitkamp will next travel to shelters and violence centers in Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Belcourt to discuss VAWA.
Congress allowed the law to expire in 2011.
It is now in the hands of the U.S. House to re-activate.