September 27, 2006

OCTOBER: TIME TO TALK ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

As many know, Iâ??ve taken a strong stand against family violence in my capacity as United States Senator. My visit to a safe home in Idaho eight years ago brought a terrifying and graphic reality to my intellectual knowledge of the breadth and depth of the problem. In 2000, after the tragic death of an Idaho teen, I was able to work to include dating violence as a definition of domestic violence under federal law. The last of these provisions, known collectively as â??Cassieâ??s Lawâ?? in Idaho, became federal law in 2004. Congress has declared October 2006, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Itâ??s a time to become involved in your community in raising awareness of the pervasive and devastating crime of domestic and dating violence that exists across Idaho. In 1994, groundbreaking national domestic violence legislation was implemented. Since then, Violence Against Women Act funding has helped support domestic violence intervention, awareness and prevention programs and encouraged new methods and treatment tools. National crime statistics reflect positively on these efforts: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, rates of violence against women from 1993 to 2005 have declined 58 percent. As hopeful as this seems, the results of the 2005 Idaho Crimes Against Persons report offer a slightly different perspective.When it comes to crimes that typically fall under the definition of domestic violenceâ??forcible sex offenses, simple and aggravated assaultâ??the majority of offenders in 2005 were intimate partners or family members of the victims. This is nothing short of chilling. Law enforcement data paints a grim picture: -Over 30 percent of victims of forcible sex offenses in Idaho were 10 years old or younger. -Forty-six percent of rape victims were under 18. -Close to half of aggravated assaults in 2005 occurred in a residence; forty percent of those were committed by an intimate partner or family member. -Just over half of simple assaults happened at a residence, and 56 percent of those were committed by an intimate partner or family member. Domestic violence includes, but is not limited to, violence against women. Clearly, victims of domestic violence are children and even men. Additionally, violence done to a woman in her home irrevocably affects the rest of the family. The cure is multi-faceted. Victims start the healing process simply by gaining the courage to leave the home thatâ??s become a waking nightmare. The cure for a perpetrator starts when he or she stops the hitting, punching, slapping, rape and sexual assault. And a cure is only effective if it reaches the roots of the cancerâ??insults, control and demeaning behavior that often precede physical violence and become learned behavior for children. The cure also begins with the community. Diverse organizations across Idaho including state domestic violence advocacy organizations, local and regional shelters and organizations that provide multiple victimsâ?? services, local health and welfare offices, churches, schools, law enforcement, related state agencies and local task forces have forged meaningful, strong collaborative relationships in an effort to erase domestic violence from our homes and communities. Letâ??s make this a time to talk about what constitutes healthy family relationships. Recently, a national survey on the civic health of our communities determined that Idaho ranks #1 in the nation for families who eat dinner together. Strong family values are our Idaho hallmark. Itâ??s only natural that we come together to help lift up those in our midst whose homes are not places of the heart, but prisons of terror and hopelessness. For information about what you can do in your community, please go to my website: http://crapo.senate.gov.For Idaho-related domestic violence intervention, awareness and prevention information, please go to:The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
http://www.idvsa.orgThe Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victims Assistance
http://www2.state.id.us/crimevictim