End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin mobilizes advocates, survivors, and concerned individuals to make policy changes that will support survivors and help end domestic violence. We maintain strong relationships with state and federal legislators to ensure that the concerns and wisdom of survivors informs policy decisions. Our advocacy has yielded broad social and legal reform over the past 35 years.

We work on a range of issues that affect domestic violence victims and victim advocates, with a focus on civil and criminal legal remedies, economic support and justice, and civil rights. Become part of our effort to end domestic abuse in Wisconsin by signing up to receive our Action Alerts. You can make your voice heard and help create a more peaceful state.

Resources & Information

Advocacy Overview & Resources: State Funding Legislation for Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Victim Services in WI - Updated January 2024
Proposed Legislation: VOCA Funding Bill (SB 877)
  • Bill text available here.
2024 Public Hearings
  • Image of a hand holding a megaphone. Text: "Call to Action! Jan 25, 11am. Attend the State Funding Legislation Public Hearing on Jan 25 and tell lawmakers to fund programs serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in our state! Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison. Logos: End Domestic Abuse WI, WCASA."Senate Hearing: Thursday, January 25 at the Wisconsin State Capitol, 411 South – Click here for a sharable graphic to raise awareness on social media!
Talking Points
Overview of SA/DV Victim Services Funding in Wisconsin

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds victim service providers across Wisconsin; services provided under this program include safety planning, community service referrals, counseling, crisis intervention, and legal advocacy.

Programs are expecting devastating VOCA cuts beginning in October 2024.

• Currently the DOJ awards $44.5 million per year, spread amongst 135 agencies.
• Beginning 10/24 the DOJ will only be able to award $13 million per year. This will be the next
competitive VOCA cycle for programs. That will be a 3-year grant cycle.
• That is a 70% reduction in the amount DOJ will be awarding for VOCA beginning on 10/1/24.
• DOJ is expecting they will have to have a cap of $250k on grant awards for programs.

Sexual Assault and Domestic Abuse Services Funding
  • The Sexual Assault Victim Services (SAVS) Grant Program, administered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), is the only state program that funds sexual violence prevention initiatives and direct services for survivors and their families.
  • The DV services program administered through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the only state program that funds domestic violence prevention initiatives.
  • SAVS is currently funded at $2.235 million annually, and DV services are currently funded at $12.4 million annually. Those funding levels have been relatively static for the past decade.
  • The static nature of funding has been a barrier to expanding culturally specific programs, who are providing services to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) survivors, often without adequate funding.
  • Even at existing levels, SAVS and DV Services funding do not meet the needs of survivors in Wisconsin. With the expected reductions in VOCA funding, now is the time for Wisconsin to make an investment in sexual and domestic violence services and prevention.
  • Increases for both DV and SA funding were included in the Governors 23/25 executive budget. Unfortunately, those increases were removed in the final budget adopted by the legislature.
Reports: Legislative Agenda & Housing Research Project
2021-2023 End Abuse Legislative Agenda

Legislative advocacy is a unique and essential way we work to ensure the public policy landscape in WI is one that centers survivors and member programs across the state. This two-year agenda is informed by our Homicide ReportHousing Research ProjectFamily Law Study‘Moment of Truth’ Statement, and the feedback we received from advocates across WI, including responses to our annual survey and ongoing meetings held to further discuss housing and homelessness, economic justice, the criminal legal system, prevention, transformative justice, racial equity, and dismantling white supremacy. We incorporated feedback from survivors of violence who graciously shared their experiences with us.


There’s No Place Like Home: a Housing Research Project Measuring the Effectiveness of Housing Services in Wisconsin for Survivors of Domestic Violence

The need for safe, immediate, and affordable housing is a significant challenge for survivors of domestic violence and the service providers who work with them. This challenge can be seen across the nation, but surveys have shown it is especially acute in the state of Wisconsin. In light of this, End Abuse decided it was imperative to more fully understand how this challenging housing situation manifests in the lived experience of survivors of domestic violence. In this report, we examine the impact of safe, immediate, and affordable housing on survivors of domestic violence in Wisconsin.

Coalition Stance: Marsy's Law
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin is opposed to Marsy’s Law.

Please read below for a detailed explanation of why we made this decision.

What is Marsy’s Law?  

Marsy’s Law is an amendment to the constitution. The amendment largely duplicates existing victim protections, but goes further in several areas: victims would have the right to be heard at plea, parole, and revocation proceedings; the right to refuse defense attorneys’ interviews, deposition, or discovery requests; and the right to attend all proceedings in their cases. 

Victims’ rights and defendants’ rights 

Victims’ rights are not rights against the state. Instead, they are rights against another individual. 

The U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of all 50 states guarantee defendants’ rights because they are rights against the state, not because they are valued more by society than victims’ rights. Defendants’ rights only apply when the state is attempting to deprive the accused – not the victim – of life, liberty, or property. They serve as essential checks against government abuse, preventing the government from arresting and imprisoning anyone, for any reason, at any time. 

However, the Marsy’s Law formula includes the rights to restitution, to reasonable protection, and to refuse depositions and discovery requests, all of which are enforced against the defendant. Such rights do nothing to check the power of the government. In fact, many of the provisions in Marsy’s Law could strengthen the state’s hand against a defendant, undermining a bedrock principle of our legal system — the presumption of innocence. 

Wisconsin already has clearly defined victims’ rights in statute and the current constitution. We are concerned about the potential of the amendment to further confuse a criminal justice system that is already overburdened and underfunded. 

Why is this harmful for the last survivor? 

The apparent contradiction between the stated goals of Marsy’s Law and End Abuse’s opposition can be explained in several ways. 

  • While we traditionally think of victims and defendants as existing totally separate from one another, in reality, the lines between them are often murky. The two categories may seem diametrically opposed, but numerous survivors of domestic violence across the state will find themselves sitting in court both as victims and defendants over the course of their journey to safety and empowerment. Victim arrests occur in cases of self-defense or when charged with violating their own protective orders for allowing an abusive partner into the house because they could not keep him from being disruptive outside and feared eviction. When both parties are arrested, victims often plead guilty so they can return more quickly to children or a job. Women comprise a larger proportion of the prison population than ever, and most are survivors of violence. 
  • Wisconsin has some of the most racially disparate criminal justice outcomes in the nation. The presumption of innocence is already not a reality experienced by domestic and sexual violence victims, especially those from marginalized communities. Routinely, biases based on race, gender, or immigration status result in the arrest of victims seeking assistance.  
  • Without a serious commitment to large increases in funding for various aspects of the criminal justice system, many of the requirements in this proposal could result in an increased strain on the court system. As we have now seen in other states that have passed Marsy’s Law, this is likely to result in new administrative burdens and longer delays for trials as the system attempts to comply with new constitutional provisions, an issue that already plagues victims of crime in Wisconsin today. 
  • Legislation that trades expanded victims’ rights for potential limits on due process could result in a wide array of problems, including negative consequences for survivors. 
  • Pitting victims’ rights against defendants’ rights means that defendants’ rights may lose in certain circumstances. Defendants’ rights against the state will be weakened or unenforced in some cases, potentially at a significant cost to constitutional due process. In other words, the chances that an innocent person could be convicted of a crime they did not commit could potentially increase. The proponents of Marsy’s Law may not intend for this outcome, but nothing in their formula prevents it. 
  • With these considerations in mind, reforming the criminal justice system does not necessarily mean simply leveling the playing field between victim and accused, but rather making the entire process trauma informed, training the court’s representatives to better understand the experience of survivors, and ensuring that currently existing resources are adequately funded to better serve victims.  

The assertion that victims of crime need rights of equal weight to those of the accused is a mischaracterization of how the American criminal justice system functions. Any legislation that trades expanded victim’s rights for potential limits on due process could result in a wide array of unforeseen problems. 

The focus on assisting victims is commendable, but what we hear most often from victims and advocates is not that they wish the constitution would be amended, but rather that they need a more holistic approach to criminal justice. Victims and advocates talk frequently about lack of access to legal aid, underfunding of county victim witness units, chronically overworked and underpaid D.A.s and public defenders, restrictions on access to Medicaid and other lifesaving benefits, sparse or nonexistent affordable housing in their area, and insufficient focus on interpersonal violence in our education system. Policies addressing these issues are the policies Wisconsin survivors need. 

Opposing Marsy’s Law does not mean we oppose victims’ rights; it means we support the empowerment of victims in a different way. We recognize that due process is a fundamental right that in many ways serves as the foundation of the criminal justice system. We will continue to center all victims of violence in everything that we do.

Other pages in this section

End Abuse provides a variety of educational opportunities to advocates, law enforcement, legislators, and community members to enable them to better serve survivors throughout WI.
We envision promising prevention strategies that work with people and systems to challenge gender, race, and class stereotypes and oppressive norms while defining new ways to be a more positive, equitable, and just society.
Outreach to Underserved Communities
End Domestic Abuse WI has a long history of supporting underserved and under-represented communities - including communities of color, those in later life, the LQBTQI+ community, people with disabilities, children and youth, immigrants and refugees, and tribal communities - in...
Legal Services
Our legal team is a leader in educating advocates, attorneys, judges and others on the best responses to domestic abuse. In addition, we advocate for changes in laws and legal practices to improve the legal system for survivors.
Human Trafficking Awareness
End Abuse provides resources, training and technical assistance to programs serving domestic violence survivors, including survivors of human trafficking. Sex trafficking survivors face unique challenges to recovery and safety.
Engaging Youth
The children and youth program offers training, information, and resources for those working with youth. Also providing leadership opportunities for teens to develop skills they can use to educate their peers.
Economic Empowerment
Financial independence is key to domestic abuse survivors’ ability to live successful, violence-free lives. In partnership with local programs, we address economic needs and challenges so survivors can break free of violence.
Coordinated Community Response
For CCR and other DV/SA-focused multidisciplinary teams seeking to improve their community's response to domestic violence, sexual violence, and other forms of oppression.

Be The Change

Support our work. Support safe families.

Safe exit Quickly & safely exit this site