October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence affects one in four women in their lifetime.  It destroys families and threatens the well-being of spouses and children.  In the United States alone it is estimated that 145 women are domestically abused every hour.  To raise awareness of and end violence against women and girls, October has been designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”

Domestic violence takes many forms and includes physical abuse, emotional abuse and such actions as stalking and kidnapping.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994.   VAWA increased the penalties for crimes against women.  These crimes include domesticate violence, stalking and sexual assault.  VAWA also enhanced penalties for repeat sex offenders, and improved laws regarding protection orders, sex-offender registration and interstate domestic violence.

In 2000, key components were added to VAWA that improved law enforcement responses to domestic violence, enhanced education and training, and provided services for those domestic violence victims that faced barriers to accessing services.

This year, 2013, VAWA was reauthorized once again focusing on assisting LGBTQ, immigrant and Native American victims of domestic violence.

Since VAWA was enacted in 1994, domestic violence reporting has increased 51 percent, and the number of victims killed by intimate partners has decreased by 34 percent.

On September 17th, in his Proclamation on Domestic Violence, Florida Governor Rick Scott writes “domestic violence is a crime that threatens the safety and lives of thousands of Floridians every year.”

The Proclamation details domestic violence statistics in the state for last year: 108, 046 reported domestic violence incidents; 65,107 arrests; and tragically, 202 deaths as a result of domestic violence. 

The State of Florida has 42 certified domestic violence centers that provided emergency shelter to 15,577 survivors of domestic violence and their children, distributed over 86,000 safety plans and responded to 90,927 hotline calls in 2012.

Governor Scott ended his proclamation by encouraging  all Floridians to work collectively to promote healthy and peaceful relationships and prevent domestic violence.

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