FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Time to Get Serious About Domestic Violence

by LAURA L. FINLEY

Domestic violence is one of the most common forms of violence endured by women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one-fourth of U.S women will endure an abusive relationship, while some 1,300 people are killed each year by intimate partners. Thankfully, we have come a long way since the 1970s, when laws did not directly prohibit domestic violence, police often failed to respond, and few resources were available to victims. Yet we stand at the brink of losing much of that progress if Congress does not act now to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

First enacted in 1994, VAWA was the first federal legislation to acknowledge domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes. It provides federal resources to encourage community-coordinated responses to address these issues, including support for victim services and training of law enforcement. In 2000, VAWA was reauthorized and included several new provisions, including legal assistance for victims, expansion of the definition of the crimes to cover dating violence and stalking, attention on trafficking of persons and assistance to trafficking victims through T and U visas.

Another reauthorization occurred in 2005, which added new provisions specifically aimed at helping immigrant victims. It allows undocumented immigrant victims who have endured abuse at the hands of an intimate partner to self-petition for residency status. This critical provision was incorporated because many times abusers bring victims to the U.S. and promise to complete the required paperwork yet instead use their victim’s status as yet another tool of power and control. These victims often remain in dangerous situations out of fear of deportation or loss of child custody. The self-petition provision of VAWA lets these victims obtain documentation that allows them to legally drive and work. Given that many victims stay with abusers because they cannot financially support themselves, the ability to drive and work means these women and men can be independent.

Despite its name, the provisions of VAWA help men, women and children. Administered by the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), an estimated 250,000 victims are served annually through VAWA.

VAWA works, according to advocates in the field. The White House notes that the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which was established through the VAWA, has received over three million calls, with more than 22,000 each month. For 92% of callers, it is the first time they have called anyone for help. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1994 and 2010, rates of intimate partner violence decreased 64%.

I am Board Chair for No More Tears, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides individualized assistance to victims of domestic violence. Based in South Florida, No More Tears has, since its inception in 2006, helped 254 survivors and more than 600 children escape from abuse. The organization offers numerous supports for victims and their children as they seek to remain safe and independent. One of the most important resources that No More Tears’ victims have utilized is VAWA.

No More Tears’ staff and board members have seen first-hand the impact of VAWA. Several victims the organization assisted who received the benefits of VAWA have pursued educational opportunities and are working in careers of their choice. They are financially stable, and, most importantly, they and their children are safe. Other organizations have noted the same impact of VAWA, which is why hundreds of organizations across the nation are encouraging Congress to reauthorize VAWA.

The time is now. Congress is debating VAWA and despite widespread support (with all of the women in the Senate except Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) co-sponsoring the legislation) some still oppose it. Opposition rests largely on the fact that VAWA provides assistance to undocumented immigrants and to Native Americans and LGBT persons. This partisan squabbling is appalling in so many ways, not least of which is the fact that failing to reauthorize VAWA is a huge step back, a return to times when victims had little choice but to endure their partner’s violence. On February 4, 2013, eight Senators voted against moving to debate on the bill: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID).

This is an opportunity for Congress to promote justice—for victims and for communities. Please don’t let Senate Republicans stand in the way of safety and a better life for those who have been harmed by the very people who are supposed to love them. Contact these Senators and implore them to reauthorize VAWA. Do it today. And tell everyone you know to do it. It just might save the life of someone you know and love.

Laura L. Finley, Ph.D., Sociology and Criminology, Barry University, is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
Margaret Kimberley
Liberal Hate for the Green Party
John Davis
Lost Peoples of the Lake
Alex Richardson-Price
The Fight for a Six Hour Workday
John Wight
Why Palestine Matters, Even on the Pitch
Brian Cloughley
Hillary Clinton’s War Policy
Patrick Cockburn
A Battle to the Death in Syria
David Rosen
The Great Fear: Miscegenation, Race “Pollution” and the 2016 Election
Ben Debney
Worthy and Unworthy Victims of Child Abuse
David Barouh
Liberal Myths: Would Al Gore Have Invaded Iraq?
Graham Peebles
Democratic Revolution Sweeps Ethiopia
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy Into a Case of Casino Capitalism
David Swanson
The Unbearable Awesomeness of the U.S. Military
Robert Fantina
The Olympics: Nationalism at its Worst
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail