Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘intimate partner violence’

It’s the right time for VAWA

Although women comprise 51% of the electorate, they’ve been a strangely silent majority. That silence may have lulled some of our misogynistic politicians to ignore the cardinal rule of elective politics.  Vote against 51% of the electorate and it’s very likely you won’t remain in office. Republican Senators, at least with respect to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), got the message. With their Democratic counterparts, they overwhelmingly passed the reauthorization sending it to the House. What the House Republicans will do is anyone’s guess. 

VAWA was comprehensive legislation enacted in 1994 to counteract the growing violence against women in our country. It provided for, among other things, the strengthening of penalties for sex offenders; training VAWA evil of police, prosecutors and judges; establishing of the National Domestic Violence Hotline; providing legal relief for battered immigrant women; and protecting Native American women who very much-needed protecting since one Native American woman in three had been a victim of sexual violence, and she had a ten times greater chance of being murdered. (,0,3781667.story). See, factsheet.pdf

By everyone’s standards, VAWA was a huge success. Intimate partner violence declined by 67%; homicides of females decreased by 35%; reporting of domestic violence significantly increased; and all states strengthened their domestic violence laws. factsheet.pdf.  Notwithstanding the impressive outcomes, in 2011 VAWA expired and Congress, as it has with other much-needed legislation, wouldn’t act in a bipartisan way to reauthorize VAWA. Conservative Republicans identified three provisions each concerning minority women that they couldn’t support.

 Women’s health and safety are at stake. Consequently, VAWA is not the legislation for Republican Congressmen to vote their prejudices. Rather, VAWA presents the perfect opportunity for them to show they care about every woman, especially since being tolerant and compassionate to battered women shouldn’t be all that difficult. As Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said “a victim is a victim is a victim – and violence is violence.”

It’s a no-brainer. Ending violence against women should be universally supported at least in the eyes of that 51%. Republican Congressmen take note. Voting your intolerance could shorten your career immeasurably.


Domestic Violence – Remember Kasandra

English: Colin Henderson's winning design will... (Design: Colin Henderson; Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 1, 2012, Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, shot Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and mother of his baby daughter Zoe, nine times, killing her then killing himself. Three months later, Rihanna confirmed that she and Chris Brown reconciled approximately four years after he severely beat her by, among other things, shoving her head against a car window, punching her face repeatedly, including her left eye, and biting her on her left ear. Both Kasandra Perkins and Rihanna are two of the approximately 1.1 million women annually who are physically assaulted, including raped and murdered, by an intimate partner. They are victims of domestic violence – “a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another.”

It should be inconceivable that home is not a safe haven and a loving partner is someone to be feared. Yet, that is life for those 1.1 million women and many more who keep the abuse hidden.  The abused may staunchly protect the abuser, but he often gives himself away. Although any male – no matter his education, financial wherewithal, or ethnicity – can become the perpetrators of the approximately 21,000 domestic crimes against women taking place weekly,, his intimidation or threats, superior feelings, stranglehold domination, total financial control, isolation of his partner or verbal or emotional abuse are but a few of the telltale signs of the brutality lurking within.

Once that violence erupts, the likelihood of it exploding again and again are extremely probable. The more frequent the abuse, the more severe it becomes until the abused is in mortal danger. Sadly, there’s no longer hope for Kasandra, but there’s still hope for Rihanna and the myriads of others like her. An abusive relationship can be transformed into a safe and secure relationship, but only after hard work by both partners. They must seek professional help. She to grow in self-esteem and assertiveness, and he to accept responsibility, be held accountable, and learn new ways to cope with anger and resentment.

At the very least, Kasandra’s death should make us, the silent bystanders, more aware of the hidden abuse among us. We must recognize a cry for help and then be ready and willing to intervene promptly. Otherwise, Kasandra and so many before her will have died in vain.

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