By Sarah Plummer
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 passed in the Senate Tuesday, a big step forward in protecting West Virginia families from domestic violence.
Nevertheless, Sen. Jay Rockefeller urges the House of Representative to break its silence on the bill and pass it.
“Everyone deserves to be safe from abuse. Last week I talked with survivors from across the state who bravely shared their personal journeys to break free from violence. The resources provided though the reauthorization of VAWA can literally save lives,” Rockefeller said.
President Obama also lauded the Senate’s action and House inaction.
“This important step shows what we can do when we come together across party lines to take up a just cause. ... It's now time for the House to follow suit and send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law,” the president said.
Rockefeller, who was an original co-sponsor of VAWA when it passed in 1994, said the act provided West Virginia with more than $3.9 million last year for law enforcement and victims’ services.
Incidentally, the nation’s first federal case prosecuted under VAWA was in West Virginia and since it became law, annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped more than 50 percent.
According the Rockefeller’s office, the need for a continuation of the Violence Against Women Act’s is evident in troubling statistics.
Sen. Joe Manchin also voted in favor the bill. He issued the following statement.
“In 2010, there were more than 11,000 domestic violence investigations in West Virginia,” Manchin said. “Any act of violence is one too many, and fighting on behalf of all victims who suffer violence is of the highest priority to the people of West Virginia. That is why I have proudly cosponsored the Violence Against Women’s reauthorization. Making sure that women and children have adequate protection against violence just makes common sense.
“Violence Against Women programs make a tremendous difference in West Virginia and across our nation. They save lives and strengthen communities. They offer protection and create channels of hope.”
In 2010, 14,880 domestic violence cases were filed in West Virginia Family Court and every 9 minutes, a call is made to a domestic violence hotline.
Additionally, one-third of all homicides in West Virginia are related to domestic violence.