Women’s safety advocates welcome last week’s report of a steep and long-term decline in intimate-partner violence in the United States and say it’s a good reason for lawmakers to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act before the end of the year.
“It doesn’t surprise me that intimate-partner violence cases have declined dramatically,” said Kim Gandy, CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, in a phone interview.
“These numbers prove that the Violence Against Women Act is working and effective,” Gandy added, referring to a 1994 law enacted with bipartisan support that provides critical services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Nov. 27 report indicates a national overall decline of 64 percent in nonfatal intimate-partner violence between 1993 and 2010. Cases fell to 907,000 in 2010 from 2.1 million in 1993.
The figures included rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault committed by a spouse, former spouse, boyfriends or girlfriend.
Renewal of the bill is on the agenda for Congress now that the election is over.
In April, a version of the Violence Against Women Act was approved by the Senate, despite strong Republican opposition to certain provisions, such as expanding protections to same-sex couples, continuing to allow victims who are undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas and permitting Native American rape victims to prosecute their non-Indian assailants. The latest version in the House also would expand free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking. Republican House members remain opposed to these provisions.
Gandy, a former prosecutor of violent offenders, said government investment and funding had helped ensure more safety for women. “It’s money well spent and hugely increases coordination in communities to support victims, advocates, prosecutors and the courts.”
One in every four women will suffer domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.