WASHINGTON, D.C. — With more than 38,000 reported incidences of domestic violence in Ohio last year, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today applauded the passage of a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, aimed at cracking down on domestic violence and abuse, addressing cyber-stalking, and ensuring that law enforcement officials have the tools necessary to safely address incidents of domestic violence. The legislation provides essential resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It also gives support to critical non-profit organizations that supply essential services for victims and survivors.
“The Violence Against Women Act has improved the criminal justice system’s ability to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable. It has been a valuable tool for so many women and their children – and it is vital that we ensure that these services remain intact. This bill will continue the important programs in VAWA for an additional five years while providing much-needed resources to law enforcement, women’s shelters, rape crisis centers, and the victims and survivors themselves,” Brown said. “In 2011, there were more than 38,000 reported cases of domestic violence in Ohio. VAWA helps give these victims and survivors a place to turn to escape violent relationships, or the means to seek legal representation. I am pleased that Democrats and Republicans were able to work together to find common ground to pass this critical bill through the Senate.”
The legislation also includes new programs designed to specifically combat internet stalking and other uses of social media that can lead to domestic violence. According to the Senate Judiciary Committee, since VAWA was originally enacted, reporting of domestic violence has increased as much as 51 percent, as more victims come forward to receive lifesaving services to help them move from crisis to stability. The Senate Judiciary Committee also notes that responding to domestic disturbance calls is particularly dangerous for America’s law enforcement officers: according to the Law Enforcement Officer Deaths Memorial Fund, in 2009, 23 percent of firearms-related deaths involved domestic disturbance calls. In 2010, eight officers were killed responding to domestic violence calls. The FBI reports that of the more than half of a million officers assaulted between 1999 and 2008, 31 percent were on disturbance calls.
According to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the reauthorization:
- Recognizes the continuing crisis of inadequate reporting, enforcement, and services for victims of sexual assault, by enhancing funding for the Services-Training-Officers-Prosecutors (STOP) program. The STOP program, according to the U.S. Justice Department, is aimed at improving the criminal justice system's response to violent crimes against women. It encourages the development and improvement of effective law enforcement and prosecution strategies to address violent crimes against women and the development and improvement of advocacy and services in cases involving violent crimes against women.
- The bill also enhances the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders program, which encourages state and local governments and courts to treat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking as serious violations of criminal law requiring coordination with nonprofit, nongovernmental victim advocates and representatives from the criminal justice system.
- Provides tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by training law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel on identifying and managing high risk offenders and connecting high risk victims to crisis intervention services.
- Improves responses to the high rate of violence against women in tribal communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country.
- Strengthens housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs.