Victims of domestic violence and the organizations that support them can rest assured that they will receive the help they need and deserve.
With my urging and support, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act was able to escape partisan politics and be reauthorized.
As I cast my vote last week, I thought about West Virginia native Jahlil Clements who died last year at age 11 after he was struck by a car while running to get help for his abused mother. VAWA helps victims like Jahlil and his mother escape and recover from abusive situations, and that's why I have staunchly supported reauthorization from Day One.
The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 helped transform the perception of domestic abuse as a situation that should be dealt with in the home to a serious crime that should be resolved in a courtroom. When it was originally authorized, VAWA created programs that helped stop violence against women by increasing access to services for victims while further investing in policies to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assaults and stalking.
Unfortunately, domestic violence and sexual abuse is still too prevalent in our society today. Nearly 13,000 domestic violence offenses were reported to West Virginia law enforcement in 2010, and many more incidents go unreported. Over two-thirds of women murdered in West Virginia are killed by a family or household member and one-third of homicides are related to domestic violence.
On any given day, licensed domestic violence programs in West Virginia provide services to nearly 500 women, children and men. As a past president of the YWCA chapter in Charleston, I have witnessed firsthand how funding provided through the Violence Against Women Act goes toward ensuring victims of domestic and sexual abuse get the help they want, need and deserve.
In a rural state like West Virginia, where victims of domestic violence and sexual assault face unique obstacles in their efforts to escape dangerous relationships, support provided by VAWA can literally be lifesaving.
While I am frustrated and disappointed that VAWA could not escape partisan politics, I am pleased that this issue is finally resolved. Lastly, I want to remind victims of domestic and sexual violence that local and national organizations are here 24/7 to help victims. The national abuse hot line is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Capito represents West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District.