Violence Against Women Act deserves support

To the editor:

At the Domestic Abuse Luncheon on Feb. 15, Leigh Block bravely recounted her story of how her ex-husband murdered their child, Mikayla Olson, after years of abusing both her and Mikayla (“A Mom Recounts Cries For Help” Feb. 22, 2013).

Her story in itself is horrific enough but is unfortunately not unique. Almost 20 years ago Vice President Joe Biden introduced a bill entitled the Violence Against Women Act in an attempt to bring support and justice to victimized women. The enormity of the passing of this bill cannot be underscored enough.

The horror of the exploitation that victims experience in their abuse is incomprehensible to the average person. Domestic violence refers to the pattern of violence that affects the quality of life for all women  – it encompasses not only physical violence but also includes pervasive emotional abuse and threats, control over finances, manipulation of the children and the idea that a man has the right to control his partner.

There has been argument that this bill discriminates against men but until we understand the essential basics of women’s rights in governmental laws, we can’t move forward in our fight against violence toward women. Previous versions of the VAWA did not fully accommodate women in lesbian relationships or Native-American women on tribal reservations that are not necessarily covered under federal law. It also does not provide for immigrant women afraid to report abuse for fear of deportation. The updates to the law will enforce violence prevention laws, hold perpetrators accountable and care for victims.

This bill is about real women being physically and mentally abused. That affects all of us.

For the House members to not support this bill is an insult and injustice to all people, not just to those being abused. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has worked hard to pass this in the Senate. We need Congress to put the partisan differences aside and work together to make this act a reality for all so that there aren’t more children suffering needlessly like Mikayla.

Cindy Pryzbilla