September 22, 2014

Domestic Violence Is Brutal And Inexcusable

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Brutal.  Disgusting.  Shocking.  Appalling.  Horrendous.  Every passing week brings more news reports about the latest incidents of abuse against spouses, children and in dating relationships.  We know instinctively that something is very wrong when incidents of domestic violence come to light.  Domestic violence is always brutal, life-altering and often deadly. 

According the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.  In Idaho, the state police reported 5,669 cases of intimate partner violence in 2013.  These are inexcusable acts of violence, but because they often happen behind closed doors, the brutality becomes shrouded in statistics. 

Successful programs to help victims and prevent future violence remain part of the solution to ridding our communities of this violence.  This year, marks the anniversary of some important laws that have helped increase access to the tools necessary to help end domestic violence.  This includes the 30 th anniversary of enactment of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), the 30 th anniversary of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) and the 20 th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). 

Early last year, bipartisan legislation was enacted reauthorizing 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 protections for all victims of domestic violence while providing for the consolidation of programs to reduce administrative costs and duplication and adding new accountability measures to help ensure that VAWA funds are used more effectively. 

The hard work of prevention advocates and victims of crime in Idaho and across the country made the extension of these needed programs possible.  While progress continues, we cannot let up.  We must work to ensure needed resources better meet the needs of victims throughout our country and make sure these tragedies become a thing of the past.

Domestic violence is brutal.  It cannot be excused nor justified.  The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, reports that daily approximately 520 Idaho victims of domestic violence and their children seek safety and services from community domestic violence programs.  In 2013, there were 14 domestic violence-related fatalities in Idaho, and 5 domestic violence-related victims have died so far this year.  One domestic violence or sexual assault is too many.  As a society, we must make clear to abusers that it will not be tolerated, and we need to help victims understand it is not their fault and they do not have to put up with it.  

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