NOW Recognizes October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Congress Must Renew VAWA and Acknowledge Intimate Partner Violence as a Public Health Issue
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This October, as NOW recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we must also spotlight the crisis of intimate partner violence (IPV). This has become a serious public health issue, especially during the pandemic, where rates of domestic violence during lockdown increased by 8.1%, according to a report by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice.
IPV affects 1 in 3 women worldwide, resulting in both short- and long-term experiences of physical, sexual, and mental harm. According to the World Health Organization, IPV increases the likelihood of women to experience psychological disorders (e.g., depression, PTSD, and anxiety), pregnancy complications (e.g., miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery), sexually transmitted infections (e.g., HIV), and chronic pain (e.g., back pain, abdominal pain, chronic pelvic pain).
Additionally, The Center for Disease Control finds 1 in 5 homicide victims are murdered by an intimate partner, and over half of female homicide victims are killed by a current or previous intimate male partner. LGBTQIA+ folks and people of color are almost twice as likely to experience threats or intimidation in their relationships and face many barriers to support and safety caused by homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and racism. Although current conversations recognize that IPV stems from systemic problems such as housing insecurity and gun violence, we must begin to acknowledge how it affects all aspects of a survivor’s life and well-being.
While the Biden Administration has made an effort to introduce multiple proposals that allocate funds to “assist survivors in their short- and long-term transition away from their abusers” in an equitable way– they need to do more. We cannot sit idly by as we witness how our country’s lack of significant action impacts survivors. It is critical that our government recommits itself to both proactively and reactively combatting IPV.
That is why this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, NOW is once again calling upon legislators to prioritize the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 1620), which has been delayed for three years. This is an essential piece to eliminating IPV and violence against women in the United States. Previous VAWA legislation has helped reduce violence, aid millions of survivors and save countless lives since its initial passage in 1994. We cannot continue to drag our feet and put more lives in danger. We must act to reauthorize VAWA, NOW.