Congress Must Act Immediately to Reauthorize Federal Legislation to Protect All Victims of Violence

by Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.
CEO, YWCA USA

Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.

Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.

“Are you or your children in a life-threatening situation? Are you in immediate danger? Does your abuser have access to weapons or guns of any kind?” These are the very first questions to be asked when a victim of violence walks through the door of a YWCA. The safety of an abused woman is our absolute priority. As it must now be for Congress.

Domestic violence touches every one of us. It fills emergency rooms and morgues, keeps employees from work, terrorizes families and interferes with children’s ability to learn. It drives up health care costs, contributes to crime on our streets, and causes lasting harm to communities. Tragically, domestic violence incidents occur each and every day in the United States and abroad, in high-profile cases like the recent killing in South Africa of the girlfriend of Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, and in the apartment or house next door to yours.

In just this past week, we have witnessed numerous domestic violence-related homicides across our nation. In Columbus, Ohio, a woman was allegedly stabbed to death by her husband, who then may have attempted to kill himself. In Florida, Utah and New York, investigations are underway to piece together domestic violence-related murder-suicide cases. And, in Pennsylvania, a man forced his way into the home of a victim, brutally stabbing her to death before fleeing the scene.The suspect had a long criminal history, including aggravated assault, simple assault and terroristic threats — a story that is not uncommon for many known abusers.

What Women Want 2012: A YWCA USA National Survey of Priorities and Concerns

by Celinda Lake, President, Lake Research Partners and Kellyanne Conway, President & CEO, the polling company, inc./WomanTrend

Today, we and the YWCA USA are excited to release the results of What Women Want 2012: A YWCA USA National Survey of Priorities and Concerns, a comprehensive look at women’s priorities in advance of the 2012 presidential elections in the United States. We interviewed nearly 1,500 women across the U.S. from a wide array of political and ethnic backgrounds to take a deep look at the issues that directly affect women’s lives, their primary concerns this election season, what hardships women have faced in the past few years, and who women want to solve some of America’s biggest problems.

Our most important (and surprising) takeaway is this: 80 percent of women, across all divides and regardless of political affiliation, agree on 80 percent of the issues. From where we’re standing, and despite references to a divided and partisan electoral climate, it seems that most American women regardless of background and life experiences have many of the same priorities for their lives, families, and communities.

Tragedy in Springfield, Mass.: When VAWA and Local Domestic Violence Intersect

by Mary Reardon Johnson
Executive Director, YWCA of Western Massachusetts

Mary Reardon Johnson

Officer down!  Around the city of Springfield, Mass., sirens blare, lights flash, emergency vehicles screech and news media are dispatched. Yellow tape goes up and the first accounts are sent out over the air and internet.

The veteran police officer responded to a call requesting assistance for a woman who had just received a restraining order and feared returning to her apartment.  Reports indicated that she feared her alleged abuser’s reaction the court’s order for him to vacate the apartment.  Their baby was with him in their apartment.  Court documents indicate that she reported he was dangerous and had a gun.  Media accounts report that he grabbed the woman and shot the officer through the door, then shot the woman, opened the door, and issued a fatal shot to the officer’s head.  The abuser subsequently fled and killed himself. The police officer died in the line of duty. The woman was left in critical condition. Miraculously, the baby was physically unharmed.

H.R. 4970 Provisions will Hurt the Most Vulnerable Women: Why the House of Representatives Needs to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and Unite Against H.R. 4970 Today

Qudsia Jafree

by Qudsia Jafree
Field and Policy Coordinator, YWCA USA

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 4970 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Enacted 18 years ago, VAWA has been nothing short of life-saving for millions of women and children across the nation, providing a comprehensive, streamlined and national response to the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Neighbors – The YWCA is a Safe Place for You

By Gloria Lau, YWCA CEO

Gloria Lau

Gloria Lau

This Sunday, May 13, is Mother’s Day, an opportunity to honor mothers, daughters, sisters and neighbors across the country.  It is a chance to remind ourselves how far we have come as women and – for some of us, as mothers.   It is also an opportunity to rally together to ensure the legacy we leave for our daughters and granddaughters is not dismantled in the current political climate.

I have two stories I would like to share with you as we head into a weekend celebrating mothers:

Update: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), H.R. 4970

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the landmark piece of legislation that aims to prevent and end violence against women, is up for reauthorization! The bipartisan Senate bill, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) passed the Senate on April 26 by a vote of 68-31.  Currently, a bill is pending before the House Judiciary Committee sponsored by Representative Sandra “Sandy” Adams (R-FL) that would roll back VAWA protections as well as abandon Native women, immigrant and LBGT victims.  This bill, called the Adams-Cantor bill or H.R. 4970, will be marked up in Committee on today and the YWCA opposes this bill.  Instead, we want to see a bipartisan bill that includes ALL victims.  A House floor vote is expected in coming weeks.

YWCA is fighting for YOU on Capitol Hill Day!

by Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy and Policy, YWCA USA

Desiree Hoffman

Desiree Hoffman

Today is an important day for the YWCA and for all the women we serve.  Here in our nation’s capital, 250 YWCA leaders — from Oregon to New York, Texas to North Dakota — are gathered today to advocate for women, girls and families. Not just the ones that come through the doors of our 1,300 locations across the U.S. every day, but for ALL women and girls.

United to serve 2 million women and girls across country, YWCA is a force to be reckoned with!

Why is the U.S. Senate Playing Politics with Violence Against Women?

by Gloria Lau
Chief Executive Officer, YWCA USA

Gloria Lau

Gloria Lau

As an organization dedicated to improving the lives of all women and as the largest provider of battered women’s shelters and domestic violence services in the U.S., the YWCA is deeply disheartened by the increasing politicization of women’s health and safety by our elected officials.  As the Senate considers the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) this week, instead of enhancing programs to assist all women seeking safety from violence, some members of Congress are putting the lives of thousands of women at risk.