The statistics are staggering: 44 percent of lesbian women, 61 percent of bisexual women, 26 percent of gay men, 37 percent of bisexual men and nearly half of transgender people will be raped, attacked or stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime. We need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act with modest but meaningful improvements that enhance our nation’s response to these heinous crimes.
Advocates for restorative justice say there’s a need for alternative strategies to address domestic violence, especially in cases where survivors don’t want the police involved.
The murder of a Fresno woman by her partner on May 4 is a reminder of the dangers many domestic violence survivors confront when trying to leave a relationship, police and experts said.
Many teen victims do not tell their family or friends about the abuse, in part because they believe violence is “normal” in a relationship. Some fear not being believed or that their abusers will cause more harm to them or their loved ones.
Spooked by ICE raids in their communities, news of family separations at the border, and anti-immigrant policies from the federal government, undocumented domestic violence survivors are staying with abusers longer and shunning help, often at risk of their lives. Survivors who do come forward also face greater challenges to pursuing safety and stability than in the past.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health care providers are required to offer domestic-violence screening and counseling to all women, and health insurance companies are required pay for those services. Health care providers statewide have been working to implement the new requirements since they took effect in Aug. 2012. But activists and those who work with domestic violence victims say the provisions are but still not enough to solve the problem.
Advocates for Native American survivors of intimate violence cheered when they won the right to prosecute non-Indian assailants in tribal court. That change came with a provision in the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year. On at least one slice of California sovereign tribal land, the change also means defendants will have to engage with a very different criminal justice system – one that is based on restorative justice.
Native American women are physically abused, raped and stalked more than women of any other racial group in the nation. A new provision in the Violence Against Women Act, passed in February, allows Native American courts to prosecute non-Native offenders for the first time since the 1970s. While most expect the provision to help address violence against Native women, particularly in Western states, it also poses challenges for California’s tribal courts, which work with far fewer resources than county courts.
Walking into the classroom of Richmond’s Latina Center intimidated Maria Lourdes Sanchez. The other Spanish-speaking women in the room, who also came to develop their leadership skills, were welcoming. But Sanchez was still afraid.
Victims of domestic violence often fall through the cracks between police, social workers and health care providers. Contra Costa County is fighting that problem by preparing to centralize services for abused women in a one-stop center in Richmond.