STOPPING THE VIOLENCE AGAINST THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF WEST VIRGINIA
by From the Hill to the Mountains: A weekly column by Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
As a husband, father and grandfather, it is incomprehensible to me how anyone can abuse a woman, a child, or even a man. Truly, life is tough enough without perpetrating violence. That is why I am a proud cosponsor of the Violence Against Women’s Act – a bipartisan commonsense piece of legislation that will make a real difference for West Virginians.
We know that since it first passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has reduced domestic violence by more than 50% through the critical programs it funds. Many of these programs are grant contributions that have made a tremendous difference in some of West Virginia’s most rural areas.
These important grants arm advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement with the tools they need to attack the root cause of domestic violence and build organized responses aimed to end the violence. These teams can make sure these cases are prosecuted effectively and that perpetrators are held accountable and that victims are receiving the services and support and safety planning that they need.
These programs surely help decrease the numbers of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking reported, yet violence against women and children is still a terrifying reality. It’s a real problem in West Virginia that demands our attention.
In our state alone, every seven minutes a call is made to domestic violence hotline in West Virginia, one-third of homicides are related to domestic violence, more than two-thirds of women murdered are killed by a member of their family or a member of their household and in 2010, there were 11,174 investigations into domestic violence allegations which required 272,450 hours of law enforcement involvement.
This legislation is a fight on behalf of the women whose heart-wrenching stories are embodied in these statistics.
Growing up in the small town of Farmington, I was raised to celebrate and admire the women around us. We thanked them, we loved them and we showed them our appreciation and respect.
But I know that not all women are as lucky. Ensuring that women and children have adequate protection against violence just makes common sense. And to the people of West Virginia, I know this is at the highest priority.
In an era where partisan divides are the norm, this is one bill that brings us all together for a common cause. It is the most decent cause and something that’s needed in America.
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