Starina Woods, West Virginia

Starina Woods, West Virginia

Domestic Violence and the Violence against Women Act? Part 1

Warning: Although there is no graphic content, some of the material in this article may be overwhelming for some readers. If you are sensitive to issues relating to domestic violence and/or recognize that you or someone you love needs help, there are programs to assist you. I am just going to leave the Domestic Violence Hotline phone number right here 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

What are the facts?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, domestic violence is, “…the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another” (2007). Unfortunately, the majority of domestic violence cases are never reported to police and therefore, statistics to support groups advocating for more government assistance are often lacking. Nevertheless, let’s look at some facts.

Violent crime, overall, has declined significantly since 1994; intimate partner violence is no different. The cause or influence for this decline is not a simple answer. However, factors such as community-based education and support groups, legal protections, police support, and the establishment of women’s’ shelters for DV victims have aided in reducing intimate partner violence.

In April 2014, The Bureau of Justice Statistics released the most recent statistics regarding nonfatal domestic violence. The following are, what I believe to be, important facts that you should know.
• Approximately 82% of intimate partner violence reports list females as the victim. Although I believe it is equally important to recognize all DV victims, women (and children) are the most affected by violent relationships. 
• Children who witness violence in the home are at the greatest risk at exhibiting similar violent behaviors later in life. 
• Roughly 45% of domestic violence results in injury. Less than one-fifth of victims with injuries seek medical attention. 
• Sexual assault occurs in approximately 45% of battering relationships.
• 19% of violent victimizations involve a weapon of some sort. 
• Approximately 79% of violent victimizations occur in the victim’s home.
• There are still some states that exclude same sex relationships in their domestic violence laws.

Again, the National Domestic Violence hotline number is 1-800-799-7233

How is the government helping to resolve these problems?
In the 1980s, advocates of domestic violence prevention and researchers began investigating educational programs and methods to assist victims in need of support. In response, in 1984, Congress enacted the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, which provides financial support for emergency shelters, crisis hotlines, and counseling (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, n.d.). Emergency shelters provide protection and safety for the victim and children as well as provide clothing and personal needs in the event the victim had to flee unexpectedly. Services typically include case management, counseling, guidance for locating housing and employment as well as legal assistance and child care services. The shelter’s goal is to help victims become independent once again through support and opportunity for personal healing and growth. 
Although attention for domestic violence prevention was rapidly growing, legal representatives had difficulty processing offenders of domestic violence because of the lack of written law. As a result, in 1994, Congress established the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), officially acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes. Legislation advocated for both legal and financial support for community-based programs tasked with providing a variety of assistance to victims. Although this legislation provided opportunities and resources for those combating violence, the community began to recognize that more needed to be done to protect victims, prevent violence, and the capability to provide additional services (National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2014).

Domestic violence prevention has come a long way in the past 20 years, establishing additional programs to assist children who have been subjected to violence in the home as well as more strict legal implications for offenders. I believe these issues necessitate their own in depth overview so I will provide more information on each issue separately as we progress through this domestic violence series.

The VAWA was reauthorized in 2000, 2005 and 2013, focusing on changes relating to legal assistance programs, legal definitions to include dating violence and stalking, legal definitions to include immigrants and Native Americans, protection for LGBT survivors, and issues pertaining to financial services (National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2014). Again, I will cover these points in subsequent posts.

If you have any questions or comments relating to DV and available assistance programs, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You may also message me privately through the Truth About Crime and Justice Facebook page.

If you need help, please don’t hesitate to seek help, your life depends on it. 
The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline 1-866-331-9474

References

Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey. (2014, April). Nonfatal Domestic Violence, 2003-2012. Retrieved December 12, 2014, from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ndv0312.pdf

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. Retrieved December 13, 2014, from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org/files/FVPSA.pdf

National Network to End Domestic Violence. (2014). Violence Against Women Act. Retrieved December 11, 2014, from National Network to End Domestic Violence: http://nnedv.org/policy/issues/vawa.html

Violence, N. C. (2007, July). Domestic Violence Facts. Retrieved December 12, 2014, from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org/…/DomesticViolenceFactSheet%28National…