Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act should be a priority for Congress

Excellent coverage on domestic violence and the Violence Against Women Act. Sunday, February 23, 2013 article in the Denver Post by Lisa Wirthman.

In Colorado, one in four women — and one in 17 men — are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, according to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA). Domestic violence is equally prevalent here : Nearly half of all murders in Colorado are committed by an intimate partner.

If those numbers seem surprisingly high, consider that violence against women is largely a silent epidemic: For example, 54 percent of rapes go unreported, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). It’s because of that silence that we need a strong and unwavering national voice to speak up for victims who are unable to speak out for themselves.

And yet, for the first time in 18 years, Congress let the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expire in 2012. Although the Senate reauthorized VAWA last week in a bipartisan 78-22 vote, it still faces obstacles from House Republicans. Among the objections to reauthorization are new provisions to strengthen services for other marginalized populations, including immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of violent crimes.

VAWA helps fund services to aid victims of crimes like sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking, and to hold offenders accountable. The act is primarily about safety, not just for victims, but for entire communities as well.

Read the article