By Representative Mark Takano
If you were to guess that car accidents, muggings or rapes were the leading causes of injury to women, you’d be wrong. The sad reality is that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than the aforementioned causes combined. Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States, and is most cases, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Even more disturbing, it has been estimated that more than 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence every year. These memories have lasting impacts on children that they often carry with them into adulthood. Not surprisingly, men who witness domestic violence as children are twice as likely to abuse their partners than sons of nonviolent parents, creating a legacy of abuse.
Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has helped ensure that no victim of domestic violence has to hide in the shadows. Pushed through by then-Senator Joe Biden, the Act provided $1.6 billion towards the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, including domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and dating violence. The Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice.
When VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in 2005, it was done so with bipartisan support. In 2012, when VAWA came up again for reauthorization, the Senate passed the reauthorization and included provisions that provided more comprehensive coverage for members of the LGBT community, and Native American and undocumented women.
When it was reintroduced in the Senate at the top of year, with the expanded coverage provisions included, the reauthorization passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 78-22, with every single woman, Democrats and Republicans, voting in favor.
After numerous roadblocks, the Senate bill eventually came up for a vote in the House of Representatives. This version, that includes the comprehensive coverage, passed with a bipartisan vote.
The reauthorization of VAWA was critical as after almost two decades, it has proved time and time again its usefulness. Countless women and children are safer because of the increased funding and tools given to law enforcement officials.
It may not have been easy, but I’m proud of Congress for doing the right thing. Protecting families should be a priority for all elected officials. This truly was a victory for women everywhere.
If you have been a victim of domestic violence, please contact the Alternatives to Domestic Violence 24-hour Crisis Hotline at 951-683-0829.