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October 22, 2007
Contact: Mark Rosenthal, <>

Domestic Violence Laws Require Reform, Groups Say

WASHINGTON, October 22, 2007 – Citing studies showing domestic violence programs are often ineffective, unwanted, and even harmful, the Coalition for VAWA Reform has issued a call to reform federal and state-level laws designed to curb partner abuse. The needed changes are outlined in its Agenda for VAWA Reform.

"For too long, victims of abuse have been re-victimized by a system that ignores their wishes, escalates partner conflict, and fails to effectively treat their abusers," notes spokesperson Elizabeth Crawford. "Right now, neither victims or offenders are getting the therapeutic services they need. The Agenda for VAWA Reform offers hope to find real solutions to the problem of domestic violence."

The 2000 Violence Against Women Act channeled funds to states to enact mandatory arrest laws. But according to a recent Harvard University study, such laws increase partner homicides by 60%. And researcher Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire recently reported that "batterer programs are no more effective than non-treatment at reducing assault."[i]

Singer Amy Winehouse admits she uses her husband as a "punch-bag" when she becomes intoxicated, and Mary Winkler of Selmer, Tenn. was recently convicted of shooting her preacher husband as he slept. Female-perpetrated abuse has become widespread, but existing domestic violence programs do not provide services to help these women.

A recent research summary revealed that batterer intervention programs are flatly ineffective, restraining orders do no stop physical violence, no-drop prosecution has no proven value, and mandatory arrest laws place victims at greater risk because they discourage them from seeking police help. The full report, "Why Have Domestic Violence Programs Failed to Stop Partner Abuse?" can be seen at http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Why-DV-Programs-Fail-to-Stop-Abuse.pdf

The Agenda for VAWA Reform highlights the need to reform domestic violence laws in three areas: make them effective in reducing partner violence, respect civil liberties, and protect the family. The Agenda for VAWA Reform can be seen at: http://mediaradar.org/docs/RADARdocument-Agenda-for-VAWA-Reform.pdf

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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