Until we all have equal rights and equal protections under the law, we will not eliminate violence.
Currently, the US Senate has passed a comprehensive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), S 47, that expands protections to address the face of the domestic violence epidemic in our nation today.
Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives, also comprised of men and women we elected into office, is debating a plan that denies protections to very specific, often marginalized, groups of individuals – the GLBT community, Native Americans and immigrants.
It’s truly astounding that in 2013, our nation, or at least its leaders, can’t seem to agree that EVERYONE, regardless of sexual orientation, national origin or ethnicity, deserves protection under VAWA.
It’s time to look at the larger picture – VAWA saves lives, helps eradicate violence and is cost effective.
There was a time that we would have been outraged at the reality that more than three women in the US are killed each day by their abuser. There was a time that fact alone would have moved us to contact our elected officials in support of legislation that has enjoyed bi-partisan support since 1994.
Dishearteningly, this doesn’t seem to hold true anymore. The lives saved through VAWA and the programs and protections it affords ALL OF US seem to get lost in a focus on finances and skewed moral objectives.
Let’s be direct: nationally 1.5 million high school students experience dating abuse yearly while one in four women and one in seven men will be victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.
This preventable social epidemic costs our country upwards of $5.8 billion annually, including $4.1 billion in direct healthcare expenses, $900 million in lost productivity and 8 million days of paid work lost. We also lose 5.6 million days of household productivity annually from nonworking individuals.
According to The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, Toolkit Subcommittee, “since its initial authorization in 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased as much as 51% and all states have passed laws making stalking a crime and have strengthened rape laws. The number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34% for women and 57% for men. Overall, VAWA saved $12.6 billion in its first 6 years alone.”
Additionally, our nation has seen non-fatal intimate partner violence against women decrease by 53%.
This leaves us to wonder why any individual across this nation, including elected officials like our own Senator Rubio, would be suspect of S 47 and the expansions included to protect those most in need.
VAWA saves the lives of men, women and children living in violence. It helps to prevent abuse before it begins and offers tools that hold batterers accountable while meeting the ongoing and ever-changing needs of victims and survivors of the most horrible form of violence…abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and nurture them.
Domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, intimate partner violence, trafficking and elder abuse doesn’t discriminate, neither should the legislation used to end the violence and protect its victims and survivors.
As a non-profit domestic violence center, our role to prevent, protect and prevail over abuse occurs not only in the daily activities of our organization, but in community involvement in solutions to end the violence.
We hope that the House has voted in support of the Senate bill by the time you read this, but that may not be the case.
So, we ask you to please contact your elected officials to request their support for the expanded Senate version of VAWA. To find your elected officials, please visitwww.usa.gov.
For free, confidential 24-hour support: 239.775.1101, TTY239.775.4265, www.naplesshelter.org To learn more about VAWA and The Shelter’s programs and services:239.775.3862.