As I was searching for a way to add my voice to the current discussion on domestic violence or intimate partner violence, as some call it, I stumbled across a very exciting fact. Since the implementation of the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) in 1994, there has been a steep decline of 67% in cases involving intimate partner violence. Prior to the VAWA we saw 1.7 million cases of intimate partner abuse and as of 2011 the number has decreased to less than 700,000. One would never know this by watching media reports!
The VAWA currently administers 24 grant programs and is described as being “designed to develop the nation’s capacity to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by strengthening services to victims and holding offenders accountable.”
I do not know about anyone else, but the fact that this Act has had such a tremendously positive impact on the lives of women shows me the great power of our tax dollars when they are put to good use.
Now obviously, this is not to say that more can’t be done to further eradicate the problem of intimate partner violence. A large part of what continues to need attention is the inequality of power between men and women.
It is believed that at the very root of intimate partner violence is the subservient role to which women have been traditionally subjected. This role allows for the devaluing of women, as is evident by the disparity in salaries between men and women which the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports a wage gap of 22%. There is an even larger gap for African American and Latino women. The pervasive practice of unequal compensation could arguably be part of the financial abuse that helps to impede women from leaving abusive situations.
While our society continues to tolerate the devaluing of women, we will continue to see incidences like the Ray Rice abuse scandal, and corporations like the NFL attempt to turn a blind eye to the seriousness of the matter.
As a former victim of 12 years of intimate partner abuse where the traditional woman’s role was the focal point of my ex-husband’s very existence, I feel it is imperative that more outreach be done in churches, mosques, synagogues, as well as places of employment to further the effort of bringing violence against women to a zero state.
There is no doubt that we, as a country, with the implementation of the VAWA, are moving in the right direction. We need to continue to make strides and put pressure on our religious institutions, as well as corporations, to change the way they handle intimate partner violence and how they perpetuate the problem. Lastly, we also need to watch out for legislative posturing that could derail VAWA altogether. The pesky GOP has a knack for being on the wrong side of things these days.