1 is 2 Many Launches Dating Violence Public Service Announcement

Last year, Vice President Biden launched the 1 is 2 Many initiative to focus on a troubling fact—women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of relationship violence. Having worked to fight violence against women for almost two decades, the Vice President knew that overall rates of domestic violence have been falling, and he heard the numbers about young women as a call to action. He asked the Administration to focus on how we can engage young women and young men in preventing dating violence and sexual assault at their schools, where they work, where they hang out, and where they live.

As part of that initiative, the Vice President asked young men and women to share their own ideas on how to educate everyone about healthy and respectful relationships. A number of responses contained practical suggestions about improving security and accountability, and giving everyone access to the best information. The Vice President has highlighted the importance of using newer technology by sending the first official text to the recently expanded National Dating Abuse Helpline. Young people can now reach out to the Helpline via text or chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Administration also issued the “Apps Against Abuse” challenge, to spur development of mobile applications to reach young people and keep them safe. The winning apps, Circle of 6 and On Watch, make it quick and easy to check in with friends about where you are and what you need, transmit your location via GPS, and connect you to the right resources to get help.

But the Vice President also heard from young people who said that solving the problem of this violence will require us to reshape cultural views about what it means to “be a man” and who has the responsibility to help stop abuse. For example, Brennan, from Hilo, HI, wrote: “I think it’d be great to come up with profiles of men in our cultural histories who have taken stands to prevent violence and abuse. Respecting women should not be a threat to masculinity, but rather a fulfillment of true manhood.” We couldn’t agree more.

We also know that research shows that men overestimate how accepted this kind of violence is by other men. And so we thought the best way to get the truth out was to make sure young men hear from other men they respect. We thought about male role models we know, like former Yankees manager Joe Torre, who grew up in a home where his dad abused his mom and who talks movingly about how devastating witnessing the abuse as a boy was for him. We talked to professional athletes who epitomize strength and physical achievement who agree that this violence is wrong and that men must help end it by speaking out. A number of them have now joined the President and the Vice President in a public service announcement that will air this summer on the ESPN Networks, the FOX Sports Networks, MLB Network and NFL Network.

In this PSA, David Beckham, Jeremy Lin, Evan Longoria, Eli Manning, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Torre and Andy Katz ask all men to step up, talk about how wrong it is, and help end the violence.

Watch the video here.

National Dating Abuse Helpline: If you or someone you know needs help, text “Loveis” to 77054 or visit Loveisrespect.org.

New Mexico’s Crime Victims Fund Receives $2.8 Million Federal Grant

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman has announced that New Mexico will receive $2.8 million from the to support victims of domestic violence.

The grant was awarded through the Office for Victims of Crime in order to enhance crime victim services in New Mexico.

“The New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission’s mission is to assist New Mexicans who have incurred legal costs because they were victims of crimes,” Bingaman said. “I’m glad this grant will help support the commission’s important efforts.”

Ensuring that LGBT Victims of Domestic Violence Can Access Critically Needed Services and Protections

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994, but failed to include critical provisions that would ensure that all victims of domestic violence can access vital services and protections.  Victims are victims, and, if you have been battered, stalked or otherwise threatened with violence, you should not be turned away by a shelter or denied the assistance you need merely because the aggressor is the same sex as you or because you are transgender.  Yet, the legislation approved by the House Judiciary Committee and being considered this week on the House floor would allow just that.

The guiding principle behind VAWA and each of its subsequent reauthorizations has been an unyielding commitment to the notion that no sexual assault or domestic violence victim should be beaten, hurt or killed because they could not access the support, assistance and protection that they need.  In enacting VAWA in 1994, Congress acknowledged that the criminal justice system chronically failed to respond to the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, too often blaming victims and refusing to hold offenders accountable as violent criminals.  In reauthorizing VAWA in 2000, Congress included new VAWA programs and provisions to help particularly vulnerable populations, including younger victims, immigrant victims, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.  In the 2005 reauthorization, Congress once again strengthened the Act to improve the health care response to domestic violence, to include a new focus on prevention, and to expand protections for children exposed to violence.

This year, the VAWA reauthorization bill passed by the Senate in April would remove barriers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims, whose needs often are overlooked by law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, and victim service providers. LGBT victims experience domestic violence at roughly the same rate as the general population.  Nonetheless, recent surveys show that LGBT victims frequently are turned away when attempting to access services. For example, according to a 2010 survey by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 45% of LGBT victims were denied services when they sought help from a domestic violence shelter, and nearly 55% were denied protection orders.

Without LGBT-specific training, criminal justice personnel often underestimate the physical danger involved in same-sex relationships or fail to identify a primary aggressor and instead arrest both victim and perpetrator.  Even well-intentioned service providers may generate outreach materials that do not accurately or fully reflect the experience of LGBT victims, and thus inadvertently discourage individuals who have suffered abuse from seeking needed care.  In all these cases, bias or a lack of understanding contributes to an environment where the needs of LGBT victims are underserved.

The Senate bill would improve VAWA further, authorizing States and service providers to ensure that VAWA protections extend to all victims – including LGBT victims – of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  The Senate bill includes three provisions that would help LGBT victims access VAWA-funded services.

First, the Senate bill would add a LGBT-focused purpose area to the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant program, the largest VAWA program and the one that supports law enforcement, prosecution, court and victim service activities in every State.  This new purpose area would authorize States, at their discretion, to fund projects that focus specifically on improving responses to male and female victims of domestic and sexual violence whose ability to access traditional services is affected by their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Second, the Senate bill would amend the Act’s definition of “underserved population” to recognize that LGBT victims face barriers to service.  Not only does this improvement send an important message to those who administer and receive VAWA funding, but it will ensure that organizations serving this community can obtain funding from a new grant program that focuses on underserved populations.

Third, the Senate bill would protect LGBT victims from discrimination by prohibiting VAWA grantees from denying LGBT victims access to programs on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Plainly put, this provision would ensure that all victims of domestic violence are able to access life-saving services.  In contrast, the VAWA reauthorization bill reported out of the House Judiciary Committee, which is being advanced by House Republican leadership, excludes these critical protections for LGBT victims.

Opponents claim that the Senate bill’s LGBT provisions are a solution looking for a problem.  That is just not true.  Domestic and sexual violence against LGBT individuals is an unfortunate reality, as is violence against non-LGBT individuals – and we shouldn’t allow any victim of such abuse to go unprotected.

Attorney General King calls on Congress to Reauthorize National Domestic Violence Law

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has joined with 52 state and territorial Attorneys General calling on the United States Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for the first time since 2006, ensuring vital programs continue uninterrupted to protect women and families from violence and abuse.

The Attorneys General letter to Congress says while the response nationally to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking has been transformed since the initial 1994 VAWA passage, issues addressed by VAWA are still at the forefront of the crime fight in our country.

Although the rate of domestic violence has dropped 50% during the last 17 years, statistics show three women are killed each day by abusive husbands and partners, and for each victim that loses her life, another nine women narrowly escape their own death.

Reauthorizing VAWA would maintain services for victims and families at the local, state, and federal level as well as provide for the development of new initiatives aimed at key intervention areas which include:

  • Addressing the high rates of domestic violence, dating violence and sexual assault among women aged 16-24. Programs will work to combat tolerant youth attitudes toward violence and break the cycle in which women who experience abuse as teens are more likely to be victimized again as adults.
  • Improving the response to sexual assault across disciplines by implementing best practices, training, and communication tools among the healthcare, law enforcement, and legal services a victim encounters after an assault.
  • Preventing domestic violence homicides by enhancing training for law enforcement, advocates, and others who interact with those at risk. A growing number of experts and researchers agree that these homicides are predictable – and therefore preventable – if we know the warning signs.