October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for commemorating the victims of domestic violence and educating ourselves and others about this heinous, and often "taboo," topic. Domestic violence is shockingly pervasive in the United States:
- About 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, and one in four women in the US has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
- Although 85% of spouse abuse victims are women, domestic violence against men is a serious and under-discussed issue (approximately 2.9 million men are victims of intimate partner assault each year).
- Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they know, and females who are 20 to 24 years old are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
- Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.
- Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
- The Jewish community is not immune either: As many as 7,500 Jewish women may be victims of domestic violence, and Jewish women tend to stay in abusive relationships two to three times longer than those in the general population (non-Jewish women stay for three to five years, compared with Jewish women, who stay for seven to 13 years).
Ironically, just three weeks before the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Shawnee County District Attorney's Office in Kansas "decriminalized" domestic violence to save money in the face of a 10% budget cut. Already, the District Attorney's office has turned back 30 cases of domestic violence since September 8, meaning that many perpetrators will be released back into their communities, placing their victims and other residents at additional risk. The fact that an elected official believes it is acceptable to stop prosecuting domestic violence misdemeanors in the face of financial constraints indicates there is still a gross education gap about the problem of domestic violence.
In light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in an effort to further inform those in our government, and in anticipation of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization this year, the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition is sponsoring a briefing titled "VAWA & FAITH" tomorrow (Tuesday, October 18), at the Capitol Visitor Center in Room SVC 201-00 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. The briefing is open to the public. Join us at the event or follow the briefing on Twitter (#DVAM, #VAWAfaith). To RSVP, please contact Miri Cypers via email or at 202-857-1300.