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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Monday, September 15, 2014

Federal, State And Local Programs To Join In A Statewide Awareness Campaign


WVCADV: Joyce Yedlosky / Tonia Thomas, 304-965-3552, 304-534-0641;
US Attorney’ Office, Southern District of WV: Tracy Dorsey Chapman, Victim Witness Coordinator, 800-659-8726, (304) 345-2200
US Attorney’ Office, Northern District of WV: Chris Zumpetta-Parr, 304-234-7725

Recent charges of domestic violence against well-known professional athletes have heightened public interest in the tools available to assist domestic-violence victims and to prosecute domestic-violence offenses. For the past twenty years, one crucial tool in this area has been the federal Violence Against Women Act, which was enacted in September 1994.

The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence joins United States Attorneys Booth Goodwin and William Ihlenfeld in recognizing the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act.

 “The original law had three simple goals: make streets safer for women; make homes safer for women; and protect women’s civil rights.” – Senator Biden, 1990 (lobbying efforts for 1994 passage)

“VAWA ensures that victims have access to crucial services and resources by supporting shelters and local domestic violence and sexual assault programs across the state and country,” stated Joyce Yedlosky, Team Coordinator with the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  “It also improves the criminal justice response to violence against women by providing funding for dedicated prosecutors and law enforcement who work as a team with local advocates to keep victims safe and to hold perpetrators accountable.”

United States Attorney Booth Goodwin stated, “Before the passage of VAWA, these cases were difficult to prosecute because they often involved multiple jurisdictions.  Abusers often travel between states to stalk or harass their victims or to violate protective orders.  Or worse yet, they drag their victims across state lines to take them away from their families and friends and support systems.  VAWA equipped federal prosecutors with the necessary tools to overcome these challenges.”

“We’ve made a lot of progress in the fight against domestic violence over the past two decades but much more work still needs to be done,” said Northern District U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II.  “We must redouble our efforts to prosecute domestic violence offenders who possess firearms despite being prohibited by Federal law.”

Goodwin and Ihlenfeld will join advocates, prosecutors, law enforcement and survivors across the state this week to conduct roundtable discussions on real challenges and solutions to ending violence against women.  Press are invited to attend:

Tuesday, September 16th:

  • 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm, Shepherd University, Martinsburg Center, 261 Aikens Center, Martinsburg, WV, room 205 (local press contact: Ann Smith, 304-263-8522 )

Wednesday, September 17th:

  • 9:30 am – 11:00 am, Governor Huelett C. Smith Theatre, Tamarack, Beckley, WV; (local press contact: Patricia Bailey, Executive Director or Dee Sizemore, PR Coordinator, 304-255-2559)
  • 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm, 704 Bland Street Suite 209, Bluefield, WV (local press contact: Patricia Daniels, Advocate Supervisor, 304-436-8117, ext 25)

Thursday, September 18th:

  • 9:00 am – 10:30 am, Marshall University Student Center, Huntington, WV (local press contact: Amanda Weiss McComas, Director, 304-529-2382)
  • 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm, YWCA, 1114 Quarrier Street, First Floor O’Connor Aultz Room, Charleston WV; (local press contact: Carol Sun, YWCA Development Director, 304-414-3113  )
  • 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm, YWCA Wheeling, 1100 Chapline Street, Wheeling,  WV ( local press contact: Patricia Flanigan, Program Director, (304) 232-2748

“Violence against women is the seed to so many other forms of violence and it continues to have devastating effects on families and communities across the country,” stated Yedlosky.  “To end violence in our communities, we must first end violence in our homes.”
Additional resources and information about the Violence Against Women Act are attached.

20 Years After the Passage of The Violence Against Women Act Resources

“In its totality, the Violence Against Women Act was the first federal law that directly held violence against women as a violation of basic civil rights and fundamental human dignity.” –Vice President Biden, 2013 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/09/fact-sheet-standing-women-s-civil-rights-20-years-after-vawa )

"In 1994, VAWA was a long awaited response from the federal government to address the epidemic levels of violence against women in their homes and in their communities," said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). "At that time, many states had made progress in addressing domestic and sexual violence, but the federal government did not have a comprehensive response to violence against women." (http://nnedv.org/news/4373-nnedv-honors-vawa-s-20th-anniversary-and-calls-for-ongoing-action.html )

Here are some examples of VAWA’s effectiveness .  (https://www.legalmomentum.org/blog/celebrating-20-years-violence-against-women-act ):

  • Between 1993, the year VAWA was introduced, and 2010, violence against family members and intimate partners in the U.S. declined 67%.
  • There has been as much as a 51% increase in reporting of such violence by women and a 37% increase in reporting by men.
  • Between 1993 and 2007, the rate of intimate partner homicides of women decreased by 35%, and the rate of intimate partner homicides of men decreased 46%.
  • VAWA has saved taxpayers billions of dollars in costs for medical and mental health services, as well as costs for law enforcement and justice system expenditures

In West Virginia, VAWA has contributed to successful initiatives that have lead to:

  • Help maintaining 14 licensed domestic violence programs that provide free, confidential, community based, services to all 55 counties in WV.
  • Pro arrest laws shifting the responsibility from the victim to the state for filing criminal charges against domestic violence perpetrators;
  • A network of community and system based advocates to provide support, education, and legal advocacy as victims walk through the complex, comprehensive legal systems;
  • Cross system trainings, collaborative efforts and strategies with a variety of systems that impact families experiencing domestic violence;
  • County wide coordinated community response teams to develop and maintain policies and protocols that facilitate safety and accountability;
  • Statutory elimination of applying pretrial diversion (as evident in the Ray Rice case) to domestic violence cases preventing domestic violence perpetrators from being able to “erase” their record through a dismissal of charges for good behavior;
  • Just recently, WV moved in ranking of states from 8th in the nation to 13th of women murdered by men due to domestic violence (When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2012 Homicide Data. http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2014.pdf )
Updated January 7, 2015