By Rachel Brody |
The passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 transformed the national response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
The act has brought crimes that used to be considered private, family matters out from behind closed doors. But while rates of domestic violence have dropped by over 50 percent in the past 17 years, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Tragically, three women are killed each day in the United States by abusive husbands and partners, and for every victim who loses her life, there are nine more who narrowly escape that fate.
We must continue to shine a bright light on domestic violence at the local, state, and federal level. That is why in January, I was joined by Maine Attorney General William Schneider and our colleagues from 51 U.S. states and territories in calling on Congress to swiftly pass a Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill. As attorneys general, we see the devastation of domestic violence every day. Just last year in Delaware three children—aged 12, two and a half, and one and a half—watched as their mother was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, such terrible cases are not isolated.
Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act will not only permit critical services to victims to continue uninterrupted, it will also allow new, targeted efforts to be developed in areas where research shows we can have the most impact.
We must put programs into action that reduce the high rates of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault among women aged 16 through 24, improve the response to sexual assault by enhancing coordination among the healthcare, law enforcement, and legal services a victim receives, and work toward preventing domestic violence homicides by making sure those who work with women at risk can recognize the warning signs.
We know a great deal more about domestic violence than we did 18 years ago when the vice president, then-Sen. Joe Biden, first introduced this landmark legislation. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act will allow us to build on those lessons and continue to make progress and save lives. It will send a clear message that this country does not tolerate violence against women and show Congress's commitment to keeping that bright light shining for the millions of women and families still in the darkness.
About Joseph R. Biden III Attorney General of Delaware
Janice Shaw Crouse Author of 'Children at Risk' and 'Marriage Matters'
Laura Wood Writer at TheThinkingHousewife.com
Roy Speckhardt Executive Director of the American Humanist Association
Max Baucus U.S. Senator from Montana
John Cornyn U.S. Senator from Texas