BIDEN, DELAWAREANS COMMEMORATE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMAN ACT
Senator Releases National Report, Receives First-Ever HOPE Award
Friday, September 10, 2004
Dover, DE - On the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), nearly 200 of the state's victim advocates, nurses, counselors, business and community leaders joined the architect of the landmark legislation, U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. to commemorate the law that transformed the way our nation deals with family violence.
The legislation, which Senator Biden refers to as his "proudest legislative accomplishment," strengthened federal penalties for abusers, stalkers, and repeat sex offenders and provided $3.8 billion to states to fund battered women's shelters, rape exam kits, special training for police, prosecutors and nurses and to establish a national domestic violence hotline. Delaware has received nearly $10 million in VAWA funding, using the money to, among other things, train sexual assault nurse examiners, provide free legal services to victims of abuse and open shelters, including a special shelter in Sussex County to serve Hispanic women and children.
"With the passage of the Violence Against Women Act we started talking about that dirty little secret that no one wanted to say out loud," said Senator Biden. "I am proud to say that since then, we've witnessed an incredible transformation in state and federal criminal and civil law enforcement, communities' victim services, and societal attitudes toward domestic violence and sexual assault. Abused women have become safer. A rape victim or battered wife can now turn to a trained police officer, an emergency room nurse, or a 1-800 telephone operator. We transformed private 'family matters' into public crimes with true accountability and meaningful victim services."
At the event, Senator Biden also released a comprehensive report detailing the genesis of the law, its progression over the years and new challenges to be addressed by future legislation. Among the findings:
Crime is Down, Reporting is Up According to recent studies there has been an almost 50% drop in domestic violence; more than 20% decline in the number of women killed by their partners; incidents of rape are down by 60% since 1992 and attempted rape is also down by 57%. In addition, the percentage of women who reported the crime in 1998 (59%) was greater than the percentage in 1993 (48%); more than half (53%) of rape victims are now stepping forward and reporting these crimes to the authorities, while from 1993 to 1995 only 30.8% reported their attacks.
More Prosecutions, Better Access to the Courts
There have been more than 660 new state laws passed on domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Studies have shown that abused women who obtained protection orders were 80% less likely to be assaulted during the year after the abuse than women without such orders.
Each month the National Hotline on Domestic Violence fields more than 16,000 calls from across the country.
In August 2003, the Hotline received its one-millionth call since its inception in 1996.
The Act's programs have helped communities reach out to new populations of abused women.
One study found that with VAWA funds, 72% of surveyed victim service organizations were able to bring help to more women, and 70% of surveyed victim service organizations were able to tap into entirely new victim populations.
The Act not only saves lives, but also saves money.
A 2002 university study found that money spent to reduce domestic violence saved nearly ten times the potential costs incurred between 1995 and 2000. During that time, the federal government spent $1.6 billion for the Act's programs and avoided spending an estimated $14.8 billion on medical, legal and other victimization costs that arise from domestic violence. On an individual level, the act costs roughly $15.50 per woman in the United States and saves an estimated $159.
The report also highlighted the work that remains to be done to better protect the nation's women and children, including: legislative remedies that take into account new types of stalking technology such as global positioning devices; violence against women serving in the military; violence prevention services for children from abusive homes and additional housing needs for families in crisis.
Biden noted that the second generation of the Act, VAWA 2000, expires at the end of this calendar year, but he has already begun collaborating with lawmakers on the follow-up Violence Against Women Act 2005.
"The legacy of the Violence Against Women Act must not fade as resolute police chiefs retire, state task forces reorganize or committed district attorneys' are replaced with newly elected leaders," said Senator Biden. "Tragically, there are still far too many women and children vulnerable to the cowardly criminals who abuse them."
At the event, Senator Biden was also awarded the first annual HOPE award for his leadership in domestic violence. As part of the award, Verizon Wireless will donate $10,000 to the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence in his honor.