Don’t let aid for victims disappear

She was beautiful in the witness box and spoke with all the worldliness and innocence of a 19-year-old. 

She’d asked to get out of the car and he’d sped up.  She’d turned the wheel, hard, into a parking lot. They’d argued. 

At one time, he’d hit her hard enough to knock her unconscious. 

He was still hitting her when she woke up. She’d caught his hand and bit hard. She’d opened the door and stepped out.  

He’d backed up, catching her between car’s door and the frame. Off-balance, she’d fallen to her knees and been drug into the road.  

Afterward, her sister asked me if she’d broken down in court or been strong.  

Yes.  And yes. 

A friend who’d fought for battered women asked more questions. 

Yes, a woman started meeting with the girl while she was still in the hospital and had accompanied her to court, explained the proceedings, and kept his friends from approaching her.

This child had the support she needed to be brave.

Thank you, Violence against Women Act.  Thank you, all the advocacy groups that fought for VAWA.  And thanks to all who’ve worked to build–and link–resources for battered persons. 

During the past 25 years VAWA has funded 18 different grant programs to help local governments deal with domestic abuse. Some have funded court training and assistants for victims; safe havens and transitional housing; even databases and research. Others have targeted rural areas, college campuses, and public housing developments.  

In 2000 a renewal extended services to the disabled and elderly; in 2005, to American Indians and Alaskan Natives.  In 2013 Congress extended services to all survivors of Gender Based Violence “regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”  

It’s not just about women and children any more.  

The National Network to End Domestic Violence found that 72,245 individuals had received services for shelter, transportation, legal assistance, education and counseling during a single day in September 2017.  

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

It is also the seventh month the Senate has failed to take action to renew the Violence against Women Act.  The previous version expired in February, but programs were funded through September. The House passed a new version, H.R. 1585, by a vote of 263-158 in April.

Word is that Republicans oppose the House bill because it calls for taking gun rights away from men convicted of abusing their girlfriends. They feel women will make up accusations just to get men’s guns taken away.  

That says a lot about how they see human relations: women will lie in order to hurt their men. 

 It says even more about how they see voters.  

Apparently, we’re not supposed to know that the Senate can amend bills from the House. Or that they can even write their own bills. 

The House would accept some Senate changes rather than abandon victim services. 

A more believable reason is that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is deeply afraid of splits in his ranks. 

Thirty-three Republicans in the House opposed their leadership and voted to fund victim services.  Earlier this month, 129 House Republicans–two out of every three–opposed President Trump’s “disastrous” abandonment of our Kurdish allies.  

But the Republicans hold such a slim majority in the Senate that even three defections would pass bills that McConnell opposes.

So the Senate won’t be voting on bills to limit oil drilling in coastal waters, to protect voting rights, to promote energy efficiency, to strengthen Congressional ethics–or to help the abused to be heard.

And Sen. Risch can hide behind McConnell’s shield.  

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