Paralleling a national movement to address domestic violence, volunteers from across the state formed the Nebraska Task Force on Domestic Violence in 1976. The Task Force, together with the Nebraska Commission on the Status of Women, worked to pass the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act in 1978. This legislation remains the basis for funding provided to statewide domestic violence and sexual assault programs.
The Task Force continued to work for increased funding for organizations providing shelter and assistance to battered women. This group continued to work, with no significant funding, to provide trainings, assist programs in applying for funding, and publish resources and articles for battered women. As the number of women seeking help increased, it became apparent that the survival of the services depended on reorganizing and finding funding to open a state office.
After being awarded a $7,500 Statewide Coalition Building Project grant in December 1985, the Task Force changed it’s name to the Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition. The Coalition was able to open an office with one full-time staff in 1987 due to a grant from the Nebraska Department of Social Services, and continued to provide training to local boards and recruit individual members. The next few years were spent networking with law enforcement, attorneys, and other service providers to strengthen domestic violence and sexual assault laws. The Coalition began funding a statewide hotline in 1995 that would enable victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to connect to the program serving their communities.
Now decades have passed since the Task Force first met, and the state has seen a dramatic improvement in the public’s perception of and the legal response to domestic violence and sexual assault. The Coalition recently played an instrumental role in increasing state funding for programs by $150,000, the largest funding increase in 19 years. Last year we provided 96 trainings on domestic violence and sexual assault issues, reaching 2,771 individuals. The Coalition’s office has gradually increased to nine staff members. Our commitment continues to be supporting the local programs that provide services to battered and assaulted women throughout Nebraska.