The Violence Against Women Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 1994 and quickly became a well-known and important tool in our nation's battle against domestic violence. The Act provides money to Ohio, and every other state in the nation, to fund local law enforcement agencies to provide services to victims and survivors of domestic violence.
The Violence Against Women Act is once again receiving attention as the legislation is up for reauthorization. Ohio supporters highlight the many benefits the legislation has provided to the victims of domestic abuse in the state of Ohio, and the work and educational initiatives the legislation has funded in an effort to eradicate violence in the home.
In addition to providing funding for crisis hotlines, women's shelters, educational outreach and counseling services, the legislation has also had a direct impact on the legal community. The legislation has provided dollars for legal advocacy and law enforcement. It even provided Lancaster with funding to hire a domestic violence prosecutor.
Regardless of one's position on the specific legislation, the anniversary of the renewal of the act allows everyone an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come as a nation and how far we have yet to go. While things have certainly improved, and domestic violence unquestionably receives more attention than it did 50 years ago, more than 38,000 cases of domestic violence were reported in Ohio in 2011.
If someone is a victim of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse by a spouse and believes that they are in danger it is important to contact law enforcement immediately. Often, victims of domestic abuse are afraid to reach out, but they might be surprised to find out how many resources are actually available to help them through this hard time.
Source: Lancaster Eagle Gazette, "Locals seek bill renewal to curb domestic violence," Francesca Sacco, March 25, 2012