The Violence Against Women Act was originally passed by Congress in 1994, spearheaded by then Senator Joe Biden. But when the act expired in 2011, it took more than a year of wrangling before Congress could come to terms on its reauthorization. When President Obama signed the reauthorization of the act on March 7, several additional groups of women were covered. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons, Native American women on tribal land and immigrants are now protected.
Susan Kidder, Executive Director of Safe Connections, Michelle Schiller-Baker, Executive Director of St. Martha’s Hall and Lisa Jones, Director of the Victim Service Division of the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney of St. Louis County were Don Marsh’s guest on “St. Louis on the Air” to discuss the ramifications of the reauthorized act and the issue of violence against women.
All three guests agree that the first step a person who is being abused should take is to tell someone. And before a woman attempts to leave an abusive relationship, she should contact one of the domestic abuse organizations to get help in formulating a safe plan to leave. They also agree that the best way to change the way people view violence is prevention and education is the key to prevention. They urge parents to start early teaching their children that violence is not acceptable.
There is a collaborative network of agencies in the St. Louis area that provide services dealing with the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. Safe Connections sponsors a round-the-clock hotline that can connect victims with the appropriate agency including different programs for women, men, adults and children. The number is (314) 531-2003.