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It has been a brutal summer for victims of family violence. If we send someone new to Washington DC, will they take action? Will a new Senator or House Representative reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?

Written by Paige Flink for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

It has been a brutal summer for victims of family violence. For the first time in the 34-year history of The Family Place in Dallas, Texas, we will shelter 113 people, including 38 women, 73 children, and two men. A mom and her young child are being transported right this minute by the Dallas Police Department because of the dangerous violence in their home. 

We've had to place some families in hotels because it is more than we have bed capacity to handle, but their lethality risk was too great to turn them away. My colleagues at other emergency shelters in Texas are experiencing the same overwhelming demand. The shelter in Arlington is putting up cots in their gymnasium. We are setting records we wish we never had to reach. 

All this is happening at a time when some Texas politicians report that things are going great in the Lone Star State. The women who are struggling to keep their kids alive would not agree with that perspective. 

Yesterday I met Sarah. She had been living in a hotel with her two autistic sons because her abusive husband had lost his job and they'd been evicted from their apartment. She put up with the abuse for years so her kids would have stability and a roof over their heads, but the recent pain was too much for her to bear. We've got her in a safe place for now, but finding a job that pays enough to cover her specialized child care needs and living expenses is going to be very difficult. 

Last month I met Mary. She moved to Dallas in 2009 to escape a 15-year marriage to a minister who was well respected in the community. Her employer provided transportation to Dallas to escape her husband's extreme physical and emotional abuse. Her plan was to live on unemployment until she found a new job. Unfortunately, she was denied unemployment because the state where she had previously lived does not recognize the fear associated with domestic violence as a valid reason to leave employment. To make matters worse, Mary has high blood pressure. Her medical insurance from her employer was good for one month, but she can't afford COBRA's high monthly fee. Without insurance, she can't afford the cost of a medication refill. I hope she's healthy enough to find a job and keep it.   

And I can't stop thinking about Gloria. During an abusive rampage, her husband shot and killed her brother who was trying to protect her. Her two little boys witnessed this horror, but managed to escape by jumping out of the bathroom window. Gloria's husband kept her trapped in their marriage by not letting her become a legal resident. He didn't want her to gain independence from him because he was afraid he would lose her. 

"Save America, Vote!" reads the sign in the yard of a politically-opinionated neighbor. What good will that do? If we send someone new to Washington DC, will they take action? Will a new Senator or House Representative reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)? Since 1994, this critical law has provided funding for shelters, saved thousands of lives, and helped reduce partner violence against women across our country. The number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34 percent for women and 57 percent for men; the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased 53 percent in the years since the law was enacted. Today, this effective law is a political football, languishing on the desks of Congressmen while agencies such as ours struggle to shelter every person who needs it.

Come on Congress: Where are your "family values?"  

In my 20 years of working to stop family violence in our community, I have seen thousands of courageous women and children escape to a better life. They couldn't have done it without the financial support of caring individuals. Find a shelter in your town. Help feed and clothe these families. Provide enriching activities for the children. Bring your gently used baby stroller and car seat to help a new mom in the shelter transport her baby home. 

Call your representative, get mad, get active, and tell politicians to do their jobs and reauthorize the VAWA before the situation gets even worse. 

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Comment Preferences

  •  1978 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto

    That is when the shelter the author leads was opened. And it has only grown since then, which says we have a great deal more to do to solve this problem.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 03:34:02 PM PDT

  •  VAWA is an important law. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    But, these numbers run contrary to a subset that I'm looking at:

    The number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34 percent for women and 57 percent for men; the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased 53 percent in the years since the law was enacted.
    Murder-suicide between couples (often iincluding their children) has been on such a steep rise that the CDC now regards it as a national epidemic.

    Texas, alone, is breaking its own records, with over 30 families wiped out so far this year.

    Shelters save lives, for sure, when there is a prior history of physical abuse. It could be that, if there is no prior history of abuse, they are not counted in the numbers presented above. Often, in the case of murder-suicide, it is often a spur-of-the-moment thing if there is a gun in the house.

    Another typical day in Texas:

    "No One Makes Me A Fool"

    "RIO HONDO, TX — Investigators are calling a double fatality a murder-suicide, the result of a man’s fear that his common-law wife was cheating on him, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said Friday.

    "Jose Sanchez, 39, told his cousin he was going to kill Marisela Galvez Villarreal, 45, because she had come home late for two nights, Lucio said in a news conference.

    "Lucio said investigators believe Sanchez used a .380-cailber pistol to kill the woman before shooting himself in their home near Rio Hondo.

    "The bodies were found in a bedroom of the house where the couple had lived for more than a year, Lucio said.

    "Investigators found three .380-caliber bullet casings at the scene, but Lucio said he didn’t have information to release on the bullets’ entry wounds, adding that autopsies had been ordered.

    "Lucio said Sanchez was drinking when he called his cousin about 5 p.m. Thursday to tell him he planned to kill Villarreal.

    "Sanchez reportedly told his cousin that he thought Villarreal was cheating on him because she had come home about 1 a.m. on two recent nights, the sheriff said.

    http://murder-suicide.blogspot.com/...


    A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

    by Pluto on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 03:47:36 PM PDT

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