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January 29, 2007
Contact: Mark Rosenthal, <>

Domestic Violence Programs Lack Effectiveness and May Harm Women, Report Concludes

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 / U.S. Newswire / – Domestic violence laws such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are not reducing abuse rates and may be placing women at greater risk of violence, according to a report released today.

"Has VAWA Delivered on its Promises to Women?" reveals that partner homicides had already dropped 29% by 1994, the year that VAWA was enacted into law. After 2000, declines began to bottom out, according to Department of Justice statistics.

The report can be viewed at: http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/VAWA-Has-It-Delivered-on-Its-Promises-to-Women.pdf.

Some VAWA-driven policies, such as mandatory arrest for restraining order violations, are seen as placing certain groups of women at greater risk of subsequent violence.

"Get-tough domestic violence laws aren't working the way persons had hoped," notes RADAR spokesperson Lisa Scott. "In some areas, arrests of females have skyrocketed and 15% of restraining orders are taken out against women."

The report highlights the case of Kimberly Piscopo of New Jersey, who was barred from the marital home on the grounds that she was spitting and using foul language.

Women who do not cooperate with prosecutors may be charged with contempt. In one California case, the county prosecutor put a woman in jail for 8 days after she refused to testify. She later won a $125,000 settlement for false imprisonment.

The report reveals that many VAWA-funded programs do not offer services for abusive women, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Arguing that VAWA-funded programs are overly-intrusive, a 2003 report from the Ms. Foundation for Women notes, "Unfortunately, when state power has been invited into, or forced into, the lives of individuals, it often takes over."

That intrusion escalates partner conflict and reconciliation becomes almost impossible. The result is what has been called "state-imposed de facto divorce."

A growing number of women's groups are critical of heavy-handed VAWA programs that often ignore civil liberties and don't curb abuse.

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org.

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