Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A few Significant Facts on Domestic Violence: How you can help

According to the National Organization of Women:
  • 1400 women are beaten to death every year by their husbands or boyfriends.
  • 2 to 4 million women are battered each year.
  • Women are ten times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.
  • Of women who are victims of assault and rape, the majority are women who are separated, divorced, single, or from low-income households
  • African-Americans are more likely to be victims of assault and rape.
Here's more:
  • 3.3 million children are exposed to violence by family members or female caretakers
  • 40-60% of men who abuse women also abuse children
  • Fathers who batter mothers are twice likely to seek sole physical custody of their children than are non-violent fathers
  • 27% of domestic homicide victims were children (in 1996).
Since President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, victims of domestic violence have been able to avail of free Legal aid, housing and counseling services provided through shelters. But 2008 prompts action as funding for Domestic Violence programs will be reduced. Funding for VAWA which is tied to the Justice Department's budget appropriations of $400 million in 2008 will be reduced to $280M next year.

Legal intervention has saved lives and allowed victims to move on. The consequences of a cut in the budget appropriated for domestic violence are the following:
  • Lack of free Legal aid: The reduction or absence of Legal aid reduces the chances for fighting for child custody and/or obtaining court-ordered protection against the abuser. Abused persons who are undocumented immigrants or in the process of legalization may find it difficult to petition the government for legal status.

  • Lack of housing programs and transitional housing: The lack of shelters places the abused at a much higher risk as women and children will need to spend the night or continue to live with their abuser.

  • Scaled-back counseling: Reduced counseling services will lead to prioritization of services such that only the brutally abused receives counseling. The reduction in crisis intervention also leads to a lack of social support and counseling which can lead to prolonged stays at shelters. This also lengthens the time for the abused to reach self-sufficiency. The average length of stay in a shelter is currently 25.5 days.
What can we do? Logon to Find members of the House and Senate who have shown an interest in domestic violence issues. Write to them with suggestions on how victims of domestic violence can be important contributors provided that their immediate needs for crisis intervention are met. Provide them with examples of success stories and describe cost-efficient means to protect women and children in transitory situations.
Members of Congress can also be sent pre-formatted letters petitioning the continued funding of VAWA by accessing the following websites:

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