By Robert Schlesinger |
The Violence Against Women Act must be reauthorized first and foremost because it is working. Violence in domestic and dating relationships is declining, and we are also actively seeking to prevent sexual violence and stalking.
Nevertheless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, and other studies available on the Research and Statistics section of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence website tell us that nearly one in four women are beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood, and each year approximately 2.3 million people are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former intimate partner. One in six women and one in 33 men has experienced an attempted or completed rape. In the United States, an average of three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day.
One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. Children exposed to violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes. Men exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence as children are almost four times more likely than other men to perpetrate domestic violence as adults. Many costs are associated with these crimes—medical, legal, absenteeism from work and school as well as the incalculable damage to individuals and families.
Advancing a Coordinated Community Response, a linchpin of the initial Violence Against Women Act in 1994 that was enhanced in the reauthorizations of 2000 and 2005, was based on what we had learned. Then-Senator, now Vice President Joe Biden created> this federal effort to impact the incidence of violence across our nation with input from the National Network to End Domestic Violence and its members State Domestic Violence Coalitions, State Sexual Assault Coalitions now comprising the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence , and other advocacy groups. Coordinated Community Responses encourage social services, criminal justice, education, civic groups, and many more to partner with rape crisis centers, battered women's shelters, State Domestic Violence Coalitions, State Sexual Assault Coalitions, national community based and governmental organizations. These partnerships change cultural norms and institutional practices that support rather than prevent the use of power and control over others. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2012 will make it possible to continue full speed ahead to end this violence.
About Deborah D. Tucker Executive Director of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
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
Joseph R. Biden III Attorney General of Delaware