October 26, 2015

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month-a time to reflect on the significant progress and important work ahead to change our culture so no one experiences domestic violence.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women recognized Idaho as part of the national tour celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Since its enactment in 1994 and subsequent reauthorizations with bipartisan leadership and support, the law has helped Idaho nonprofits, governmental agencies and tribes provide life-saving services.  It was an honor to serve as the lead Republican sponsor in the successful effort to renew the law in 2013 and increase access to assistance for victims of crime.  As part of the anniversary tour, sixty Idaho nonprofits, governmental agencies and tribes came together to share the significant effect of VAWA in helping prevent and respond to violence against women.

Yet, according to the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, each day in Idaho, more than 514 individuals, predominately women and children, seek safety and services from Idaho's twenty-three community and tribal domestic and sexual violence advocacy programs. 

"We need to continue to work together and understand the entirety of the lived experience of individuals and families impacted by abuse and be informed by the social realities that shape it," says Kelly Miller, Executive Director, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence.  "We need to understand the complexities of people's lives, and intentionally turn towards others to help alleviate suffering or violence." 

Those in abusive relationships, or who know someone in an abusive relationship, must have the opportunity to seek support to enhance the safety of themselves and their children.  Everyone deserves to be safe and valued in their relationships.  Please reach out if you are being abused.  People care.

Another important action to decrease domestic violence is the need to engage in conversations with boys and young men in our lives about truly valuing and respecting women, and with girls and young women about building on strengths and reaching their full potential.  We need to continue to work toward compassionate communities free from violence. 

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, many are coming together to raise awareness and connect victims with resources.  To honor the lives lost to domestic violence and survivors, we must continue to build on the progress made to end this intolerable violence in our communities.

This month of recognition is a good time to learn about local community or tribal programs and ways to prevent violence from happening in the first place.  For more information about domestic and dating violence prevention and awareness initiatives and funding legislation, please visit my website: http://crapo.senate.gov. 

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