Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
This month, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, many are coming together to remember the lives lost to domestic violence, recognize survivors and collaborate with others working to raise awareness and provide resources for victims. The efforts of many across our nation are helping to make progress in ending this intolerable violence in our communities, and we must continue to build on these accomplishments.
Idahoans have dedicated considerable time and resources to keeping fellow Idahoans safe. The National Network To End Domestic Violence reported in its 2012 National Census of Domestic Violence Services that, in one 24-hour period, 688 victims of domestic violence and their children in communities across Idaho received life-saving services from local domestic violence organizations. In this same 24-hour period, 255 domestic violence hotline calls from Idahoans were answered and 420 individuals received training in domestic violence prevention and early intervention.
Through the help of the many organizations and individuals determined to assist victims and prevent violence, considerable achievements are being realized. However, we have more progress to make. According to the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, 12 fatalities related to domestic violence have occurred in Idaho this year alone-an increase of 2 deaths compared to last year's fatalities. Additionally, the 2012 National Census of Domestic Violence Services indicated that there are unmet requests for emergency shelter, housing, transportation, childcare and legal representation services due to limited resources.
While work continues to close this gap, an important tool to end domestic violence was restored. Earlier this year, Congress enacted into law bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for another five years. I partnered with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) in authoring the VAWA reauthorization legislation to strengthen programs and policies meant to prevent domestic and sexual violence and ensure continued services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The law includes new and vital protections for all victims of domestic violence, seeks to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the country, provides needed assistance to law enforcement in prosecuting sexual assault crimes and assists investigations into human trafficking crimes. Additionally, the law provides for the consolidation of programs to reduce administrative costs and duplication and adds new accountability measures to help ensure that VAWA funds are used more effectively.
Enactment of this law and the resources it provides was made possible due to the ongoing efforts of many prevention advocates and victims of crime in Idaho and across the country. I commend all those who work hard to end this violence. Due to these efforts, progress is being made, but we have more work ahead.
Through continuous efforts to connect victims to domestic violence assistance, advance prevention and encourage kindness toward others, including teaching youth about healthy and safe relationships, we can continue to make progress in the effort to end domestic violence. Thank you to the many across Idaho and the nation who are working to further this goal.
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