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Why We Really Really Need to Pass the Violence Against Women Act

Why We Really Really Need to Pass the Violence Against Women Act

This is a guest post from Desiree Hoffman, Director of Advocacy at YWCA USA.

Image courtesy of YWCA

This holiday season, Iím wishing for Congress to pass a bi-partisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and to extend tax cuts for the middle class. Iíll admit, itís a big wish: there is only a very short window of time ó†about 15 working calendar days ó†for Congress to accomplish these two things. But itís not impossible; in fact, itís absolutely critical that this wish comes true.

Throughout 2012, we have heard story after story about the importance of VAWA for women and families, yet this Act has been lingering with little progress for months. The House (H.R. 4970) and Senate (S.1925) have passed their respective bills, and the 2012 elections are behind us. Now, VAWA gathers dust, waiting for Congress to take it off the shelf and move forward. Meanwhile, our YWCAs across the country, who serve over half a million clients each year through anti-violence programs, know that VAWA is of vital importance to millions of women and girls. Our YWCAs want a bi-partisan VAWA bill that is similar to S. 1925 (one that includes protections for LGBTQ, Native Americans, and illegal immigrants who are victims of domestic violence) to pass before the end of the year. Read the letters that 82 YWCA associations sent to the House and Senate this week.

Recently, there has been a renewed effort in Congress for a final push on VAWA. A bi-partisan Dear Colleague letter is circulating in the House of Representatives, led by Representatives Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Judy Biggert (R-IL), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Mike Quigley (D-IL), John Conyers (D-MI), and Ted Poe (R-TX). These Representatives are urging House Leadership to move quickly to renew VAWA by bringing a bill that includes similar provisions as S. 1925 to the House floor for a vote. (You can reach out to these Representatives to show your support Ė find their contact information here.)

The other critical issue this month is the federal budget and our tax policy, or the ďfiscal cliff,Ē which has received intense media coverage. Much like VAWA, the fiscal cliff impacts all of us at the YWCA, as we are social service providers, advocates and working women who count on government funding for our programs. The fiscal cliff also impacts our clients, who are low-income women, women of color, young women, older women, military women veterans, and stay-at-home mothers who rely on our programs. Together, this is quite a large group! If Congress does not act to extend tax cuts for those making under $200,000 a year, and for families making under $250,000, the consequences will be widespread.

Hereís what it might mean for the average American woman: if Congress doesnít act and extend tax cuts for a woman making less than $200,000 a year, then her taxes will go up by $2,200 next year according to a new report, Middle Class Tax Cuts Impact on Consumer Spending and Retailers. Personally, as a new mom to an 11-month-old son, $2,200 helps me pay rent in an expensive city, obtain childcare so that I can work, and afford groceries so that I can feed my family. In fact, $2,200 equates to almost two months of childcare costs alone!

It is painful to see our nationís leaders considering cutting spending that helps fund vital programs run by service providers like the YWCA in order to address the nationís budget problems. Congress has already made cuts to these programs as a result of the Budget Control Act. In reality, the need for services that our local associations provide, like career development, child care, and shelter for domestic violence victims, has not diminished in recent times – it has ballooned. A more fair and balanced approach to addressing our nationís budgetary problems would be to protect programs like these, as well as to raise revenue by asking individuals making over $200,000 a year and families making over $250,000 a year to pay a little more in taxes. Doing this would not only benefit my budget as a mother and keep me safe as a woman; it would mean that my young son would grow up in a society that is committed to ensuring†safety and justice for women and families.


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2:42PM PST on Jan 2, 2013

34) Summarised in Mendel, The Male Survivor, p.62. See fn.27

2:41PM PST on Jan 2, 2013

FemaleMolesters VAWA ignores:
The harm female perpetrators can inflict has been found in at least three pieces of research undertaken with male rapists identifying that a significant number record being sexually abused by older women when they were children. For example, Groth’s (31) study suggested that 66% of his sample had been victimized by a female perpetrator. Petrovich and Templar’s study (32) on male rapists showed that over 50% of their respondents disclosed sexual abuse by an older female. Briere & Smiljanich’s self-report study (33) found that: 
 … among the sexually abused men who reported sexual aggression against women, 80% had been sexually abused during childhood by a female perpetrator. In other words, sexual activity during childhood with an older female strongly predicted later sexual aggression against adult women and childhood sexual victimization by females is a particular risk factor for later assault directed at adult female victims. (34) 
31) N. Groth, Men Who Rape (New York: Plenum, 1978). 
32) M. Petrovich and D. Templar, ‘Heterosexual Molestation of Children Who Later Become Rapists’, (1984) Psychological Reports 54, p.810. 
33) J. Briere and K. Smilijanich, ‘Childhood Sexual Abuse and Subsequent Sexual Aggression against Adult Women’ [Paper presented at the 101st Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada, August, 1993.] 
34) S

1:50PM PST on Jan 2, 2013

@ Suba: "The "harm" as such, is caused by inadequate enforcement rather than any exclusions in the law."

VAWA is training the "inadequate" law enforcement.

@ Suba: "Considering that many who raped/abused boys have been tried and convicted, there does not seem to gender based discrimination of victims as long as crimes are reported."

Unless the perpetrators are women who routinely recieve light sentences.

@ Suba: "If reporting is a problem, obviously there should be more education programs."

VAWA's education programs don't include boys other than as perpetrators. They hire the likes of Jackson Katz to badger them about, you guessed it, patriarchy and blah,blah, blah...

@ Suba: "I don't see anything objectionable in the paragraph "Promoting Healthy Masculinity".

Would you have a problem with a group of men (Republican men even) taking government money to establish programs for "Promoting Healthy Femininity" to YOUR girls? You know, to teach them child murder is inherent to the Matriarchy.

@ Suba: "My repeated point is, you shouldn't stop helping one group of victims in order to help another."

My repeated response has been that's exactly what PCAR, VAWA and N.O.W. have been doing for decades. Not only did they not help boys and men, they blamed them.

8:42PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Suba: This is from the PCAR webpage

"Promoting Healthy Masculinity
Prevention, at its core, is about changing social norms and beliefs that make violence acceptable in society. Sexual violence is connected to all forms of oppression, but sexism (or the belief that women and girls are less valuable than men and boys), is one of the strongest forces. Although the anti-sexual violence and feminist movements have done tremendous work and education around sexism and how harmful it is to women and girls, men and boys have not historically been part of this conversation."

Not only did they leave them out of the conversation, they said boys deserved to be raped. And now they want MORE money to hire the likes of Jackson Katz to travel the country and badger frat boys about, you guessed it, the evils of the patriarchy etc. which does nothing to prevent rape.

6:54PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

@ Suba: "There are unscrupulous individuals in every field, like those who told you boys deserve to be raped. Again that is no reason to be against a whole group of people, or to believe that the goals/principles of a particular organization are flawed."

Your right. And when David Duke became the new face of the KKK they stopped being racist.

6:49PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

No, it IS harmful. Look at the 3% of boys are molested statistic touted by PCAR and provided by a VAWA study, the same people that brought you the Super Bowl and March of Dimes lies about domestic violence. Professionals knew the rate was closer to 20-25% of boys decades ago. PCAR and N.O.W. chose to deny it. Even Oprah did a show for men who were sexually abused as boys 25 years ago. And then never mentioned it again until her last season. She's as guilty as Paterno as far as I'm concerned.

My point is PCAR, like all feminist organizations, let boys get raped for thirty years. Those boys at Penn State came forward despite the bigoted silence of PCAR. PCAR then capitalized on the Sandusky debacle the week after the Paterno riots, raking in buckets of cash at the next home game. They also recieved 1.7 million from the NCAA sanctions. And thanks to the fraudulent VAWA study, expect 1 to 3% of that money to go to proactive social programs for abused boys.

And I doubt even that. They spend a ton of money on feminist propaganda that tows the party line with sound bites about patriarchy, male privilege and rape culture. Even though they know damn well rape is caused by child abuse, they still choose to do nothing.

4:48PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

VAWA Reform Coalition - RADAR: Home Page

Note the operative word reform. Not repeal.

4:42PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

on the radar: VAWA 2005 - Ms. Magazine Online | More Than A ...

Ms.: Why, in 2005, do we need a Violence Against Women Act?

Even though great strides have been made in the legal, political and social arena dealing with sexual and domestic violence, much is still left to be done. We know that when whole communities take a stand against gender violence, the number of instances of this crime go down. Yes, there has been a lessening of reported cases of violence against women, including battering and rape, than there were 10 years ago when we first passed VAWA, but the campaign to eradicate this often deadly epidemic needs to be continuous and powerful.

Suba, how was this inclusive again?

3:45PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

PCAR cont.
Had they encouraged boys to speak up about abusers back then, this whole Penn State thing as well as the Catholic Church debacle may have been routed out decades ago. They politicized child abuse and made the issue entirely about "women & girls."
I spoke out and wrote newspaper articles about child sexual abuse of boys back then. I was literally told by women I deserved to be raped as a child because I was part of the "patriarchal system of oppression." "Now you know how it feels," I was told.
PCAR has exploited the Penn State tragedy enough already. They raked in buckets of cash during the big home game a couple weeks ago. Right when everyone was steeped in shame and humiliation from the riots. Shameless opportunism.
If you want to help male victims of sexual violence make a donation to RAINN or 1 in 6. They are excellent and inclusive.

3:43PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

A few more words about the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape? PCAR is a 35 year old organization founded in the "all men are potential rapists" days of militant feminism.
Their web-page states,
The fact is…..
“About 3 percent of American men – a total of 2.78 million men – have experienced a rape at some point in their lifetime” (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2006). Men and boys’ responses to their victimization are important to take care of in respectful ways.
Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2006). Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey, NIJ, CDC."
3%?!?!? A FACT!?!? Even the Oprah approved statistic puts the number at 1 in 6. Many in the field believe it's closer to 1 in 4 considering boys are so much less likely to tell. That's more like 25% of men. But what would you expect from a study titled "the National Violence Against Women Survey."
PCAR claims, "Unfortunately, men are victims and survivors of sexual assault and rape too. Their victimization is just as important to take seriously and end as women’s victimization."
Nonsense. If sexual abuse of boys was deemed "important" by groups like PCAR and N.O.W. they would have included boys in the dialogue about sexual abuse 35 years ago. The statistics about boys being abused were available then, but women's groups chose to completely ignore them. Had they encouraged boys to speak up about abusers back then, this who

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