Violence Against Women Act Becomes Victim of Congressional Inaction

A woman is beaten by the person sworn to love her forever. She has no income of her own and the community in which she lives doesn’t have a safe house for her and her children. If she is brave enough to tell anyone, there simply isn’t much the police can do. In very severe cases, a passionate prosecutor might push for charges but it won’t likely be for hitting her. It will be for animal cruelty or interfering with emergency communications because those are felonies. Punching her isn’t. She and the prosecutor know one thing for sure … she is in more danger than ever. He will make bail. He will come home and he will be pissed. She will drop the charges so she can stay alive.

That was before President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (1994), sponsored by then Senator Joe Biden. Of course, the Act didn’t stop the cycle of domestic violence in America, however, it did give communities the tools they need to keep women, children, and first responders safe.

Today, even with no income, women and children have access to a safe place to live. Police have the training and equipment they need to answer one of the most dangerous and unpredictable calls: a domestic violence call. Prosecutors don’t have to be "creative" in their charges because hitting your spouse is as illegal as kicking your dog. Women are no longer responsible for pressing charges; we the people do it for them.

The abuse does continue but at least for now women have us – the American people - to defend them. However, Congress is winding up to punch women right in the mouth. Like any abusive situation, the wound will heal but the trust will be gone forever.

Former Congresswoman Sandy Adams sponsored and the House passed a bill that allows women in danger to be evicted from their homes and removes protections for immigrant, lesbian, and Native American women. The Senate language disagrees.

The domestic violence bill has since been languishing and it appears that Congress is just going to let the entire Act die because they can't agree on one thing; who is protected? Just weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton negotiated for the safety of one Chinese human rights activist, the president visited the home of a human rights activist in Myanmar, and football fans mourned the brutal assassination of a young mother, Congress is preparing to leave all women and children in America less safe.

The irony is unbelievable.

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Heather Beaven

Fighting for the right to learn, work, serve and believe in our future... (AKA The American Dream)

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