Many proponents of women’s rights are in an uproar over the potential defunding of the Violence Against Women Act, which could result in the loss of thousands of women lives annually. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is a serious violent crime that includes both physical and emotional abuse.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Some form of domestic violence will affect one in every three women in their lifetime. According to the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, every nine seconds, another woman in the U.S. is beaten.
Many would argue that the United States is defunding this act to put the money toward other important matters. However, it has been reported that President Trump is defunding VAWA in order to allocate more money for his tight budget of the controversial border wall. He silences the courageous women who end the stigma against domestic violence survivors.
If you think that the funding from this act only goes to women’s shelters, you are wrong. This act provides funding for the police to improve law enforcement’s responses to domestic violence and sexual assault reports. The ultimate goal is to end the cycle of violence. Despite popular belief, the act provides support to the entire community — not strictly aiding survivors.
This act provides funding for the police to improve law enforcement’s responses to domestic violence and sexual assault reports.
In an interview with an anonymous survivor of domestic violence as well as previous resident of a domestic violence shelter here in Chester County, she describes the difficulties that will arise from the defunding of this act. In her interview she mentions, “defunding this shelter means only being able to take in one girl, offer a support system, legal help and other assistance, instead of taking in four.” She goes on to explain that when she was younger, and in no condition to handle her situation alone, this shelter was the only support she had. If this shelter is no longer able to take in women, she is frightened about where these women and children could end up.
These organizations do not only assist with female survivors, but also men who have been subjected to rape, stalking and emotional/psychological abuse. Because this is mainly a women’s issue, it is not getting the attention it deserves. The oppression of women has been a problem for decades, and just as these women find the voice within themselves to speak out, they are now completely deprived of it.
With the #MeToo movement brought into action across different social media platforms, the VAWA is more relevant than ever. Many more women stand up and seek help from shelters for domestic violence. For example, Pennsylvania is home to 35 domestic violence shelters, which serve over 48,000 people annually. Increased traffic of these shelters means the need for public funding also increases.
I fear for every woman’s safety, well-being and protection if this act is defunded. In order to continue to offer assistance to every person possible, Americans must vote in the upcoming election. We must vote for a competent president who understands how crucial this act is for the asylum of these survivors.
Jenna Losito is a student at West Chester University. JI884368@wcupa.edu