Stop Violence Against Women Week

Sexual and domestic violence experts from around the country came to Washington, D.C. the week of April 3rd to advocate for full funding of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) sponsored a series of events, held in conjunction with Lifetime Television’s annual Stop Violence Against Women Week. Advocates met with Members of Congress and distributed materials on prevention and victim services.

Lifetime kicked off the week by releasing a Women’s Pulse poll, conducted by Roper, which finds that violence against women will be a key electoral issue this year, with 97 percent of women saying that domestic violence and sexual assault will affect how they vote. The issue is more important to women than homeland security, jobs, the economy, the war in Iraq and the environment.

Three in five respondents (59 percent) say that violence against women is worse today than it was a decade ago, the poll found. Sixty-one percent personally know a woman who was a victim of violence. Eighty-seven percent say they would encourage their daughter to reconsider enrolling in a college that has a high incidence of sexual assault or dating violence.

Americans are taking action. Nearly three in four parents (73 percent) say they have told their children that violence against women is wrong. Eighty-seven percent of those who knew that a friend or family member was being abused intervened to help.

Declaration from Religious Leaders

Also during the Week, the FaithTrust Institute held a news conference with religious leaders and advocates to unveil a Declaration proclaiming violence against women as intolerable. The Declaration was signed by more than 40 leaders of nationwide faith-based organizations including the United Methodists, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Islamic Society of North America and Buddhist Churches of America who pledged their commitment to eradicating violence.

The religious and spiritual leaders acknowledged that their sacred texts, traditions and values have been misused to perpetuate and condone abuse. “We commit to breaking the silence and making violence against women a sin. We commit to bringing our resources forward,” said FaithTrust Institute founder Reverend Dr. Marie Fortune.

Congressional Briefing

NAESV and NCADV also joined Lifetime Television in sponsoring a congressional briefing featuring Representatives Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Ted Poe (R-TX). Gabrielle Union, actress and sexual assault survivor; Regina Schofield, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs; Marybeth Carter, NAESV President; Leslie Slingsby, Director of Victim Services; Maneesha Kelkar, Manavi Director and Meredith Wagner of Lifetime Television briefed policy makers on the challenges of providing sexual assault services to victims.

Union, who starred in ABC’s “Night Stalker” and in the film, “Deliver Us from Eva,” discussed her personal experience as a rape victim, offering high praise for her rape crisis counselor and asking lawmakers to continue funding services. “We are not nameless faceless statistics, we are in front of you and we need services,” she said.

Other events during the Week included a breakfast with Members of Congress, a screening of Lifetime Television’s version of the documentary, “Searching for Angela Shelton,” and briefings on economic empowerment for domestic violence survivors and comprehensive responses to child victims of abuse.

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