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Press Release: Anti-Violence Bill Loses Focus on Victims, Many Claim

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Contact: Teri Stoddard

Anti-Violence Bill Loses Focus on Victims, Many Claim

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 — A growing number of groups, including Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, are criticizing the proposed reauthorization bill of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for losing sight of the law’s original intended purpose: to help victims of domestic violence. These concerns were highlighted during the recent February 2 meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Concerned Women for America, the largest women’s organization in the country, noted in a February 1 group letter that the Leahy-Crapo bill will “actually squander the resources for victims of actual violence by failing to properly prioritize and assess victims.”

Victim-advocacy group Survivors in Action decries what it calls the “DV run-around” in which victims are shunted from hotlines to shelters to social service agencies, never receiving the services they need.

Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, deplored the fact that VAWA bill S. 1925 “creates so many new programs for underserved populations that it risks losing the focus on helping victims.” (1)

Even Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy acknowledged criticism that the VAWA bill is “trying to protect too many victims.” Following debate, Sen. Leahy’s proposed bill was approved by a slim 10-8 margin and was forwarded to the full Senate for consideration.

Vague and over-broad definitions of abuse found in the current law undermine key Constitutional protections for the accused, as well:

“If we want to stop the cycle of violence and help real victims, the Violence Against Women Act must rein in sweeping definitions, improve accountability, and recognize that women are as likely as men to be physically abusive with their partners,” explains SAVE spokesman Philip W. Cook.

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is proposing consideration of the Partner Violence Reduction Act (2), which accords priority to persons with evidence of physical violence.

Congressman Ted Poe, co-chair of the Victim’s Rights Caucus, has suggested changing the name of VAWA to the Domestic Violence Act, in order to recognize that partner abuse affects members of both sexes (3).

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner abuse: