By Qudsia Jafree
Advocacy & Policy Manager of Health and Safety, YWCA USA
On any given day at one of the nearly 2,000 domestic violence shelters in the United States, upwards of 65,000 women and children are provided with critical direct services and emergency housing, and 20,821 hotline calls are answered to address the needs of victims of violence seeking safety. These shelters and facilities provide a much needed service to victims of domestic violence, including a bed to sleep in, counseling and therapy, and financial and legal assistance.
Despite the incredible work local nonprofits and shelters do on a daily basis to provide victims of violence resources and services, nearly 10,500 requests for services per day go by unmet. Emergency and affordable housing options is at the top of this list, along with a lack of funding and the unavailability of adequate translators, bilingual counselors, accessible equipment or specialized services. In the U.S., we have seen a steady increase in requests for domestic violence services year after year, while also seeing a steady cut back in federal funding available to sustain critical programming and shelters.
The passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) nearly 18 years ago has provided much needed support to streamline the process of assisting victims of violence. It established grants to create and improve law enforcement and prosecution strategies at the state and local levels and provides a framework for collaboration between federal, state and local governments; direct service providers; law enforcement personnel; prosecutors and the courts. Since the law was first passed in 1994:
- Domestic violence reporting has increased 51 percent,
- All states have strengthened rape laws and have made stalking a crime,
- The number of individuals killed by intimate partners has decreased by 34% for women and 57% for men, and,
- VAWA-funded programs saved $12.6 billion in its first six years alone, from 1994-2000.
While these statistics prove that VAWA has greatly improved how effective the services provided to victims of violence are and illustrate the benefits of streamlining local, state, federal and community resources, they fail to address the need for systemic change in how we understand the prevalence of violence in our communities.
Consider the following statistics:
- A quarter of all women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime.
- Women account for 85% of all reported crimes of domestic violence.
- Nearly 1,500 women are killed each year in the U.S. as a result of a domestic violence related homicide.
Women and girls face interlocking barriers of discrimination, such as sexism and racism, which play integral roles in our understanding and awareness of how and why violence is propagated towards them. This is often exacerbated when you factor in other intersectional identities, such as sexual orientation, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, ability and ethnicity.
As we kick off the first day of Week Without Violence, we ask you think about what it will take to end violence in your community. We invite you to:
- Share your thoughts in the comments below, or participate in our blog carnival.
- Find your local YWCA and learn about ways to get involved.
- Learn more about the dynamics of domestic violence and share this information with at least 5 friends.
Learn More (And Pass It On!)
- YWCA Fact Sheet: Violence Against Women
- YWCA Fact Sheet: Dating Violence
- Infographics to share
- Why VAWA is a Queer Issue
- PSA by NCAI on violence against Native women
- PSA by One Love Foundation
- The Facts on Women, Children and Gun Violence
To support the ongoing advocacy work of the YWCA USA to eliminate racism and empower women, please click here.