Month: July 2012

Read the latest update on the Violence Against Women Act

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The Violence Against Women Act hangs in limbo as the Senate and House face off over their respective versions of the bill. Click the image above to read more in a CNN article.

Following House passage of their version of the Violence Against Women Act on May 16th, which cut key provisions from the Senate version including protections for illegal immigrants and LGTB, the bill now sits in limbo. The Senate and the House are locked in a stare-down over their respective versions despite a bi-partisan appeal from senators Patrick Leahy (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R) to bring the senate VAWA to the House floor for a vote. President Obama threatened to veto the House bill.

In order to move forward, both houses must appoint negotiators, but as of now, progress has ground to a halt. But unfortunately, the same isn’t true for violence against women.
VAWA provides crucial services to victims and funding for shelters, hotlines and advocacy. Without any renewed version, funding for these critical programs will vanish. Women around the country can’t afford for a Congressional standstill to make them more vulnerable to violence. At that, our country as a whole can’t afford it. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • The cost of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services.
  • Victims of domestic violence lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence perpetrated against them by current or former husbands, boyfriends and dates. This loss is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of violence.
  • There are 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million (medically treated) injuries due to domestic violence annually, which costs $37 billion.

Call, email or write to your representatives today and ask them to come to a compromise. Millions of women and the services that help them can’t afford to hang in limbo.

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Would you cover up bruises from an abuser?

When domestic violence hits the news, it's shocking, high-profile, and often tragic. We hear about the Huguely trial,  politicians and celebrities who allegedly beat their wives, or  the latest murder-suicide, but rarely, if ever, does the news pay attention to preventing the tragedies it covers.

But in an unusual move, HLN Evening Express on CNN chose to shine the light on make up artist Lauren Luke's recent PSA showing how women cover up the bruises instead of getting help. If you haven't seen the PSA yet, click here.

CNN offers a few suggestions, saying that they know the video is shocking but “that's not why we wanted you to see it; we want to move forward from that and give you some tools to reach out to your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, who may be suffering in an abusive relationship.” They instruct viewers to believe victims, offer them assistance, and give them hotline numbers.

While we applaud the fact that a major network like CNN chose to pay attention and expand on this attention-grabbing PSA, we can't help but wonder why. Why the shift in  the usual gruesome after-the-fact domestic violence coverage? Why the proactive stance?

We can't help but wonder if the current political controversy over women's rights and violence against women, as well as the recent White House PSA “1 is 2 Many” may have anything to do with it. Or maybe, just maybe, the news is shifting to the perspective that one more news story about how to stop domestic and dating violence might just mean one fewer tragedy to report. What do you think?

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This One’s for the Boys: DV Prevention Education for Young Men

The lack of dating violence education in American public schools is hardly a surprise. But if you thought that DV awareness programs were rare, prevention programs are like an ice cube in the Sahara. When 1 in 5 female high school students between the ages of 14 to 18 reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a partner, it seems absurd that DV education and prevention efforts are virtually nonexistent, and if they do exist, they’re usually geared towards young women and girls. I haven’t the slightest complaint about that, but the domestic violence discussion is hardly one-sided.

Statistics have proven that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of abusive relationships, 85%, in fact. Granted, it’s absolutely necessary to equip teen girls with the knowledge and tools to cope with and avoid unhealthy relationships, but boys need to learn not to be abusers. The Young Men’s Mentorship Program at Becky’s Fund does just this, pairing young men with professional men in the DC Area. Dating violence is an important topic of discussion as well as gender stereotypes and roles and conflict resolution, all of which impact the effectiveness of violence prevention education. Thankfully, Becky’s Fund isn’t the only organization who recognizes the importance teach young men about violence prevention:

  • The Men of Strength Club (MOST) is a program operated by Men Can Stop Rape, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. The MOST Club mobilizes young men to prevent sexual and dating violence while building individualized definitions of masculinity which promotes healthy relationships. The MOST Club has been quite successful; so successful that in 2003, the CDC identified it as among the top four gender violence prevention programs in the country. Today, the club’s curriculum is taught in over 100 schools in over 10 states like Florida, Maryland, and as far as California.
  • Positive Choices Inc was started by local activist Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, a graduate of Dunbar High School. Founded over a decade ego, PC’s mission is to “provide an educationally, athletically, emotionally and socially enriched environment for economically disadvantaged inner-city youth”. One of its programs, Men of Valor, works with young men ages 11-19 and, through structured activity, helps young men obtain the skills necessary to become well-rounded and competent men and leaders.
  • Boys to Men of Greater Washington is a program which, through mentoring, guides young men at the critical point of development, adolescence, through adulthood. The mentees are encouraged to participate in civic engagement, instilling in them pride in themselves and their community.

Prevention programs, when coupled with education in school at home can be incredibly effective. Though not all of the programs focus on dating violence specifically, there’s no doubt that the lessons learned, particularly those of respect, communication, and leadership are just some of the skills and characteristics that can lead to a future without violence.