Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear today joined the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA), Attorney General Jack Conway and legislators to proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Kentucky.
"Domestic violence crosses all spectrums -- no matter your race, religion, economic or social standing. Anyone can be affected," said Gov. Beshear. "One-third of Kentucky women report being abused at least once during their lifetime, and it is our duty as public officials, citizens, friends and neighbors to reduce this outspread of violence. Please join us in bringing awareness to the scope of domestic abuse and support victims in your communities."
"Understanding the dynamics of domestic violence and abusive relationships is crucial to reducing risks to victims," said Mrs. Beshear. "Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity for everyone to learn how to recognize the signs of domestic abuse and to show support for victims as they work to regain control of their lives."
For the past five years, Mrs. Beshear has helped KDVA and anti-domestic violence advocates sponsor Shop & Share Day, a one-day drive to gather goods and necessities for domestic violence shelters across Kentucky. Since 2008, the drive has raised more than $2 million in goods and monetary donations.
Darlene Thomas, KDVA President and executive director of GreenHouse17, the domestic violence program serving 17 counties in central Kentucky, described the importance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, "Domestic Violence Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to honor the victims we've lost, remember why we do this work and recommit to finding an end to the violence."
In addition to commemorating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, state legislators also announced that they will support a new dating domestic violence bill during the upcoming 2014 General Assembly.
"Once a national leader in domestic violence protection, Kentucky has fallen behind," said Rep. John Tilley, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. "Abuse rates are above the national average, so it is more imperative than ever that we try to stop that. The General Assembly has worked closely with Governor and First Lady Beshear, as well as previous administrations, when it comes to keeping domestic violence victims safe and to help them get back on their feet. The next step is to include dating couples under this umbrella of protection, something more than 40 other states already provide. I am committed to doing all I can to make sure the Commonwealth is on that list."
"Increasing awareness for others to recognize the signs of abusive relationships will help to decrease instances of domestic violence, and it is important we honor the strides currently being made to put a stop to domestic violence in Kentucky," said Rep. Joni Jenkins. "However, there are milestones we must reach during our battle to ensure the safety of all Kentuckians suffering from domestic violence. I have filed bills previously to extend protections to some of our youngest and more vulnerable victims, and will continue to work on guaranteeing their safety within the legislature in the coming year."
"I appreciate Gov. and Mrs. Beshear dedicating the month of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I am proud of Rep. Tilley and Rep. Jenkins for proposing these important pieces of legislation that must pass this session," General Conway said. "This legislation will fill a dangerous gap in domestic violence protections and help keep Kentucky families safe."
Kentucky is one of only four states that do not provide protection for dating violence victims. Research shows that young women between the ages of 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of intimate partner violence, and the state's current protective order law does not protect victims of dating violence.