Do White Men Still Have a Singular Claim to Power in Politics?

In a new podcast, titled “The Dream Was Not Mine,” on The United States of Anxiety, produced by WNYC studios, Amanda Aronczyk and Nancy Solomon explore how midterm elections could be affected by the rise of women pushing back against sexual and domestic abuse in politics and in the White House.

In a new podcast, titled “The Dream Was Not Mine,” on The United States of Anxiety, produced by WNYC studios, Amanda Aronczyk and Nancy Solomon explore how midterm elections could be affected by the rise of women pushing back against sexual and domestic abuse in politics and in the White House.

“This election cannot be separated from the #MeToo movement that has erupted over the past year,” said host Kai Wright.

“We have to consider the private, personal way male power has operated in lives of thousands of women and what it means for women not challenge that power.”

Jennifer Willoughby

Jennifer Willoughby. Photo by Howard Kurtz from Fox New’s Media Buzz.

Jennifer Willoughby, Rob Porter’s ex wife (who was the former White House Staff Secretary) challenged that power when she spoke out against her husband’s physical, mental and emotional abuse.

“I wanted the white, middle-class life… until I didn’t. The marriage was a mess,” Willoughby described in the podcast.  According to Willoughby, the only way to survive, and not commit suicide, was to leave the abusive marriage. And in 2013, she did.

When the FBI was combing through Porter’s file during a background check, they reached out to Willoughby and she told them, in detail, about the domestic violence in her marriage. Shortly afterwards, the media got hold of the story, and Porter’s abuse became public.

However, not many in the White House believed the allegations, and actively rejected Willoughby’s claim.

The White House demonstrated they didn’t care,  said Wright. They called Rob Porter a man of dignity and honor.

But Willoughby stood her ground and rejected a man’s assertion of power in her life, Wright continued.

“She began to question the very nature of power and privilege. She realized truly challenging power means re imagining it all together,” the podcast said.

Now, women have developed a different idea about what they want from our democracy and how they can get it, according to the podcast.

A  record number of women running for office, including Stacey Abrams, an African-American woman running for governor in Georgia, and  Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman running for governor in Vermont, the podcast noted.

“Many of them are women who looked up after 2016 election and said something has got to change.”

A full copy of the show can be found here.

Amanda Aronczyk of WNYC public radio in New York is a 2018 John Jay Justice Reporting Fellow. This podcast was produced for her domestic violence reporting fellowship project.


DOJ to Double Funding for Tribal Public Safety

The Justice Department will provide more than $113 million funding for 133 tribes and Alaska Native villages, and another $133 million to help serve Native American crime victims. The announcement comes amid increased focus on the deaths and disappearances of Native American women and girls.

The U.S. Justice Department will double the funding it grants tribes for public safety programs and crime victims as it seeks to address the high-rates of violence against Native American women, acting associate attorney general Jesse Panuccio tells the Associated Press. DOJ will provide more than $113 million in public safety funding for 133 tribes and Alaska Native villages, and another $133 million will be awarded in the coming weeks to tribes to help serve Native American crime victims.

The announcement comes amid increased focus on the deaths and disappearances of Native American women and girls. “We recognize the serious nature of the problem we’re facing and we are trying through a variety of strategies — both through the funding and the use of our own prosecutors, and building up awareness — to address these issues,” said Panuccio. For decades, tribes largely had been unable to access money in a federal program aimed at supporting crime victims nationwide, even as federal data showed more than half of Native American women had encountered sexual or domestic violence at some point during their lives. On some reservations, Native American women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average. Nationwide, figures at the end of 2017 showed a disproportionate number of them listed as missing. The announcement comes as a series of congressional proposals seek to address how authorities’ handle and track reports of missing women on reservations. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), seeks to establish protocols for handling cases of missing and murdered Native Americans.


Why Didn’t Police Charge Ohio State Coach?

Police in Powell, Oh., near Columbus, didn’t charge assistant football coach Zach Smith of domestic violence and haven’t explained why. One critic says, “I think the entire handling of this has been abysmal but common.”

When Courtney Smith walked into a police station in suburban Columbus, Ohio, in  2015 to accuse her husband, Ohio State football assistant coach Zach Smith, of pushing her against a wall with his hands around her neck, she brought evidence. Police in Powell, Oh., collected a broken iPhone, two USB drives and a kitchen knife as they considered arresting Zach Smith on domestic violence charges. Courtney Smith also had saved threatening text messages, she told police, and kept photos of her injuries from prior assaults that she shared with Ohio State football Coach Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley, the Washington Post reports.

How did police in Powell — a quiet, affluent town of 12,000 that appears on lists of America’s safest communities — respond when the wife of an Ohio State football coach called for help? Powell police closed the investigation without charging Zach Smith; the department has declined to release the case file. Victims’ advocates think law enforcement agencies, as well as college athletic departments, have a poor track record of dealing with domestic violence. “I think the entire handling of this has been abysmal yet common. This is the status quo, and it’s a horrible status quo,” said Katherine Redmond of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes. Powell Police Chief Gary Vest defended his department’s handling of the case, one of seven instances over three years in which his officers intervened in disputes between Courtney and Zach Smith. “We did not believe that the case would be prosecutable,” Vest said. “When there’s violence and violence can be proven, there will be charges. When it can’t be proven, then we have to kind of back up.”


Watchdog Group Crowdfunds Police Domestic Violence Records

Collaborative news group Muck Rock is launching a new project that aims to shed light on the problem of domestic violence perpetrated by police officers. But according to the group, the cost of paying for these records is “daunting.”

Collaborative news site and watchdog group Muck Rock is asking for the public’s help in paying the “huge fees” involved in getting law enforcement to release police domestic violence records.

“Tracking the number of police officers accused of domestic violence is vital to public safety, particularly for women, as these public servants are tasked with responding to calls from victims of domestic violence,” Muck Rock noted in a release on Tuesday.

“According to the National Center for Women & Policing, 40 percent of families with police officers in them experience domestic violence, a far higher rate than the 25 percent affected in the general population.”

Muck Rock reports that Plano, Texas is charging $508 for the records; the Dallas Police Department wants $341.11; and Collier County, Fla. says the reports cost $257.85. The project is still in the launching stage.


Criminal Justice Programs Get National Awards

The National Criminal Justice Association honors programs nationwide that deal with imprisoned fathers, opioid overdoses, domestic violence victims and diversion of low-level drug suspects.

Anticrime efforts in the nation’s four regions won awards this week from the National Criminal Justice Association, which met in Fort Worth, Tx., for its annual forum. The awards went to projects that addressed an important issue, involved collaboration among agencies, provided evidence of effectiveness and can be replicated easily elsewhere. In the Northeast, the award went to the Hope House Father-to-Child effort, which aims to improve relationships between children and their incarcerated fathers. One part of the program involves fathers recording videos of themselves reading stories that are sent to their children. Honored in the Midwest was the Heroin Partnership Project in Ross County, Ohio, which works to deal with opioid overdoses. Elements include the use of Narcan by first responders and treatment services provided in jails. Overdose deaths dropped 25 percent in the county last year while they rose elsewhere in the state.

The award for the Southern region went to the Tennessee-based Jean Crowe Advocacy Center, which helps ensure that domestic violence victims are safe while they go through the court process. The center helps 8,000 victims annually, with the collaboration of the police department, the district attorney’s office, the legal aid society and private organizations. Success of the program has prompted Nashville to build a Family Justice Center that will open next year. Winning the Western award was the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Seattle’s King County. Its goal is to provide law enforcement “a credible alternative to booking people into jail” in low-level drug cases. An evaluation found that people who enter LEAD are 58 percent less likely than non-participants to be re-arrested, and the cost averaged $532 monthly, compared with up to $5,000 for incarceration. LEAD-type programs are operating in 17 places in the U.S., with eight other sites in the process of launching.


Should Domestic Violence Advocate Be Paid $761M?

Florida officials and a law professor question whether the director of a major state organization dealing with domestic violence should be paid $761, 560 a year. “It’s ridiculous,” says law Prof. Dan Ravicher.

Tiffany Carr runs Florida’s top domestic violence organization, a nonprofit that uses state and federal funds to finance shelters and other essential services. A 2017 report from the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence says she is paid $761,560 annually, the Miami Herald reports. She hit that mark after receiving pay raises totaling $313,475 over a two-year period. “That’s — it’s ridiculous,” said University of Miami law Prof. Dan Ravicher, who focuses on nonprofits, business and social entrepreneurship. “We’re talking almost 2 percent of the budget being paid to one person. That’s pretty unusual.”

Carr’s coalition, a nonprofit that reports its top salaries on annual Internal Revenue Service forms called 990s, is one of many private organizations that receive state funds to provide social services. In addition, the coalition operates as a pass-through, awarding public funds to smaller domestic violence organizations. “It is surprising that a private nonprofit organization serving such a vulnerable population requiring critical services would set a salary at more than $750,000,” said Mara Gambineri, deputy communications director for Gov. Rick Scott. “This organization should provide a full explanation and give reassurance that the important services they provide are not being diluted by this expense.” The state, which provides slightly more than half of the coalition’s funding, apparently had no idea Carr was pulling down such a hefty salary. Mike Carroll, the secretary of Florida’s Department of Children & Families, said the coalition’s budget on file with his agency lists her salary as $300,000, “which may be inconsistent with federal tax documents…”


When Men Are the Victims of Domestic Violence

Our society still clings to stereotypes of men as being macho, strong and able to take care of themselves. So it’s no surprise if many victimized men feel they would get no sympathy, support or help if they admitted that their wives or girlfriends physically abused them.

On February 25, the actress Heather Locklear was involved in a domestic violence incident. Sadly, such incidents are not uncommon. What makes this case unusual—aside from Locklear’s celebrity—is that she was the attacker, not the victim.

The person she allegedly attacked was her boyfriend.

Locklear was arrested and charged with one felony count of domestic battery for allegedly assaulting Chris Heisser. Although that charge was later dropped, Locklear still faces charges of resisting arrest for fighting with the officers who tried to arrest her.

The stereotypical case of domestic violence involves a husband or boyfriend who assaults his wife or girlfriend. Most cases of domestic violence do fall within that paradigm. In more cases than you may realize, however, it is the men who are the victims.

Here are some relevant facts from the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2015 Data Brief:

  • About one in three (33.3 percent or 37.2 million) US men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime;
  • As to specific subtypes of intimate partner violence, 8.2 percent of US men experienced contact sexual violence, 31 percent experienced physical violence (with 14.9 percent experiencing severe physical violence) and 2.2 percent experienced stalking during their lifetime; and
  • Over one-third of US men (34.3 percent or 38.4 million) experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, while most of the perpetrators of sexual violence and stalking were predominantly male, perpetrators of the other forms of violence against males were mostly female.

The victims of domestic violence, male and female, share many commonalities. They may blame themselves and make excuses for their partners’ behavior. They are often ashamed and embarrassed to be in an abusive relationship. They may be afraid to seek help and be unaware of the resources available to assist them. And unfortunately, they may wind up being killed by their abusers.

In May 1998, comedic actor Phil Hartman was shot to death while he slept by his wife Brynn, who then killed herself. Friends of the couple described Brynn as extremely jealous and having a “mercurial temper.” Hartman even showed up to the set of “NewsRadio” with scratches on his face from her.

Even when men do call the police on an abusive partner, much like abused women, they may be reluctant to see their partners actually arrested.

That’s what happened after professional golfer Lucas Glover was attacked by his wife Krista for missing the cut at the Players Championship in May 2018.

Although he and his mother both had fresh lacerations after the altercation with Krista, Glover tried to convince the sheriff’s deputies not to arrest her. But the deputies did so anyway, charging her with domestic battery and resisting arrest.

According to the police report, Glover said that “when he plays a bad round of golf, Krista proceeds to start an altercation with him and telling him how he is a loser and a p‑‑‑y, how he needs to fire everyone, and how he’d better win, or her and the kids would leave him and he would never see the kids again.”

Lastly, like some abused women, abused men may eventually snap and strike back at their abusers.

For example, Dennis Long, a British man, fatally stabbed Judith Scott, his partner of 30 years, who had verbally and physically abused him throughout their relationship. She had struck Long with a poker and even broken his thumb; she had also called him a “pansy” and a “poof.”

In October 2010, Long was sentenced to more than four years in jail for manslaughter. At sentencing, the judge said the killing had “to be seen against a background of 30 years’ severe conduct by [Scott] and some physical abuse as well.”

If domestic violence is under-reported by abused women, imagine how difficult it may be for abused men to come forward.

Our society still clings to stereotypes of men as being macho, strong and able to take care of themselves. As a result, the image of a woman yelling at, hitting or beating her man may strike many as comical. After all, the figure of a “henpecked husband” is typically met with laughs, while the abused wife is seen as a tragic figure.

Eline Van der Velden, a Dutch actress, writer and producer, stars in the BBC Three series “Putting It Out There,” where she challenges social perceptions. In October 2017, she and Will, a male actor, staged a social experiment in a park in London, in which Will threatened to abuse Van der Velden.

Then they switched roles. They used the same words and body language, and continued for the same amount of time in the same place.

When Will was shouting and threatening to hit Van der Velden, barely a few seconds passed before someone stopped to help her. Over 90 minutes, a total of seven people came over to ask if there was anything they could do.

But when Van der Velden was screaming at Will, only one person stopped in 90 minutes. Moreover, some teenage boys started taking photos and posting them on Snapchat. They were laughing, saying, “Look at him getting beaten up.”

As Van der Velden said, “It was amusing to them that a woman was abusing a man.”

Is it any wonder then that many victimized men may feel like they would get no sympathy, support or help if they admitted that their wives or girlfriends physically abused them?

The humiliation of being victimized by a woman may make men feel like less manly, which is only reinforced if their confessions of abuse are met with laughter, ridicule and derision, especially by other men.

For instance, when the judge sentenced Dennis Long, he described Long as “a placid, unassertive, rather weak man”—exactly the kind of disdain male victims of domestic violence may fear when they come forward.

For gay men, acknowledging abuse by a partner may be just as difficult. In addition to the “usual” reasons for staying mum about domestic violence, abused gay men may worry that disclosing abuse sullies a community that already faces undue scrutiny and criticism.

Victimized gay men also may not have strong ties with family due to their sexuality and thus may not have adequate support networks in place to help them get out of and recover from abusive relationships.

Plus, men—gay and straight—may fear that law enforcement won’t take their complaints seriously, or that they’ll end up being arrested themselves.

For example, a former Army Ranger named Michael used a GoPro strapped to his belt to catch his estranged wife’s abuse of him on video. Footage from the camera appeared to show her aggressively grabbing his genitals as he reached into the car to unbuckle one of his sons.

She then threatened to say Michael had assaulted her if he called police. Instead, the video resulted in her arrest for domestic battery.

“This is just one of many instances where I’ve had to use the camera to either prove her guilt or prove my innocence and that’s the only reason I am carrying it,” Michael told a Cleveland TV station. He hoped that the video would validate his claims, adding that “it seems to be overlooked when the man is a victim of domestic violence.”

Michael’s experience is not unique. Dr. Jessica McCarrick, a Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology and Chartered Psychologist at Teesside University in the United Kingdom, conducted a study on male victims of intimate partner violence.

Dr. McCarrick carried out interviews with abused men who said that, in addition to the trauma of domestic abuse, their negative experiences were compounded within the criminal justice system by being treated like the guilty party or feeling dismissed by the police. Victims reported being arrested based on false counterclaims made by their partners—even when there was evidence that the men were, in fact, the victims, the police didn’t take the allegations seriously.

Part of the problem is that men may not realize that they’re in abusive relationships because the issue of domestic violence has historically been framed as one in which women are the victims.

As a result of the focus on female victims, male victims may be less likely to reach out to support groups and the like for help, believing that those resources are only available to women.

However, domestic violence hotlines, shelters, etc. will generally help all victims, regardless of gender. Moreover, specialized resources for abused men are becoming for common.

For example, a handful of shelters specifically for male victims of domestic violence have opened in Texas and Arkansas. Such shelters provide a safe place for abused men to be vulnerable and honest about their emotions without fear of recrimination, scorn or disbelief.

In addition, more agencies and groups are making an effort to acknowledge male victims of domestic violence and encourage such victims to reach out for help.

For example, in Australia—which has been described as having a culture of toxic masculinity— a group of male and female academics, researchers, social workers, psychologists, counsellors, lawyers, health promotion workers, trainers and survivors/advocates launched the “One in Three Campaign.”

Based on the statistic that one in three victims of domestic violence in that country is male, the campaign’s goal is, among other things, to raise public awareness of the existence and needs of male victims of family violence and abuse.

So, how do we as a society address domestic violence against men?

I’m certainly not arguing that the focus of anti-domestic violence efforts be shifted from female to male victims. Given that women make up the vast majority of domestic abuse victims, it’s reasonable for groups to focus their efforts and resources on them. But we cannot ignore the thousands of male victims who also need our support and help.

To that end, government agencies, law enforcement, hotlines, support groups, shelters and the like need to ensure that their efforts to protect women don’t inadvertently make male victims feel unprotected and unwelcome.

Efforts also need to be made to educate men on the simple fact that yes, they too can be the victims of domestic violence at the hands of their supposed loved ones.

People in general need to make men feel comfortable acknowledging the abuse and asking for help. And we need to get over our own preconceptions of men and women and offer help to the men who we think may need it.

As one man told Van der Velden in her social experiment for TV, “I thought [Will] looked soft. I felt bad thinking that. But I had the classic thing in my head of, ‘I wouldn’t let a girl hit me.’ That’s terrible – why would I think that?”

If we continue to see men only as aggressors and women only as victims, we will continue to ignore the complex dynamics at play in many relationships that can result in men suffering mental abuse and violence.

Robin Barton

Robin L. Barton

To quote Dr. McCarrick, “Intimate partner violence should be viewed as a human issue rather than a gender issue.”

Robin L. Barton, a legal journalist based in Brooklyn, NY, is a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a regular blogger for The Crime Report. She welcomes readers’ comments.


Domestic Violence: ‘Where’s the Outrage?’

A national awareness campaign similar to the anti-drinking and driving movement is the most promising way to address the nation’s domestic violence problem, according to speakers at John Jay College Wednesday. They called it a public health challenge.

Will ending the scourge of domestic violence require the kind of mass public campaign that helped reduce drinking and driving?

Community advocates and practitioners speaking at a conference at John Jay College Wednesday argued that, despite the pervasiveness of intimate partner violence (IPV) across all economic and ethnic groups, the media and public officials rarely identified it as a public health challenge.

“Where’s the public outrage?” asked Maureen Curtis, who heads criminal justice and court programs at Safe Horizon, a leading New York City provider of services to domestic violence survivors.

Maureen Curtis (L), Terri Roman. Photo by John Ramsey/TCR

She pointed out that it wasn’t until a coalition of community groups and policymakers began identifying the dangers of alcohol to drivers that it became embedded as part of America’s cultural awareness.

The same approach should be applied to IPV, she said.

“We need people to stand up and say this isn’t OK.”

Some speakers pointed out that recent headlines about politicians and policymakers forced to resign because of sexual harassment or abuse helped to raise consciousness about the issue.

But often it remained off of the radar screen for many Americans—either because they did not want to acknowledge it as a problem or it hit too close to home.

“A lot of the (domestic abuse cases we see) are a product of socialization,” said Terri  J. Roman, project director of the Bronx (NY) Domestic Violence Complex, who recalled that her own mother was victimized by spousal abuse. “Many men and women grow up to be abusers because of what they see as young people.”

John Leventhal

Associate Justice (NY) John Leventhal. Photo by John Ramsey/TCR

Judge John Leventhal,an Associate Justice in New York’s Appellate Division, said courts could ensure that victims were kept safe from spousal abusers, but longer-term health approaches were essential.

“It’s a learned behavior,” said Leventhal, who presided over the Brooklyn Felony Domestic Violence Court, which was the first such court in the US when it was established in 1996.

“Maybe, it can be unlearned.”

But the only way to break the cycle, speakers said, was to make it a wider public discussion.

“This is a public health epidemic,” said Kristin Smith-Shrimplin, president and CEO of Women Helping Women in Cincinnatti, Ohio.

Kristen Smith-Shrimplin

Kristin Smith-Shrimplin. Photo by John Ramsey/TCR

“It needs a public health solution.”

Karen Jackson, director of recovery at Project Hospitality, a New York faith-based nonprofit, said that domestic violence was linked to and impacted by “every social justice issue.”

For example, she said, the failure to pass the omnibus Farm Bill in Congress this month left in doubt the future of food assistance programs included in the bill—programs which many poor families are dependent upon. Without such assistance, an abused woman might decide she cannot afford to leave a partner who is otherwise the chief breadwinner of the family.

While the nation has made progress in reducing overall rates of intimate partner violence over the past decade, statistics suggest one in three women will experience some form of abuse by an intimate partner—and the majority of them will be under 25, according to speakers during the first day of the session Tuesday.

Stephen Handelman is editor of The Crime Report. He welcomes readers’ comments.


Suit: Officials Ignored Violence of Wife-Killer NJ Cop

New Jersey police Sgt. Philip Seidle shot and killed his wife in 2015, three weeks after their divorce became final. A lawsuit by the victim’s children says police officials ignored numerous signs of his potential for violence, including a long record of excessive force complaints and 12 different calls for help from the victim, Tamara Wilson-Seidle.

A lawsuit filed this week alleges that a former Neptune Township, N.J., police sergeant who gunned down his ex-wife as she sat helplessly in her car had an internal affairs file that is nearly 700 pages–and was asked to stay on the force even after he offered to retire prior to the 2015 slaying, reports Philip Seidle had already served two suspensions for domestic violence and briefly had his service weapon taken away, the same weapon he used to kill his ex-wife, Tamara Wilson-Siedle, on an Asbury Park street in June 2015, three weeks after their divorce was finalized. The new lawsuit, filed by the nine Seidle children, includes explosive new allegations that their 54-year-old police officer father had an internal affairs file that is 682 pages with excessive force complaints starting in 2004.

When coupled with Seidle’s long, documented past of physical and verbal abuse against Wilson-Seidle, 51, local and county authorities ignored warning signs that ultimately led to her death, the lawsuit contends. They also failed to take action after Wilson-Seidle visited Neptune police officials, including Chief James Hunt Jr., to “complain about the mistreatment, abuse, threats and behavior” of her estranged husband, the lawsuit states. Seidle pleaded guilty in  2016 to aggravated manslaughter and child endangerment and was sentenced to 30 years in state prison. The plaintiffs say there at least 12 calls for help to police from Wilson-Seidle from 2012 to the date of her murder. His police gun was taken away in 2012 and a police psychologist declared him unfit for duty. A year later, the gun was returned to him.


Federal Protection for Women Sliding Backwards, Experts Warn

Lynn Rosenthal and Bea Hanson, prominent players in the Obama White House, told a conference at John Jay College Tuesday they were worried that the upcoming reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act would not cover the programs needed to help women experiencing intimate partner violence.

Two of the country’s leading experts on women’s issues warn that federal efforts to prevent violence against women are in danger of sliding “backwards” under the Trump administration.

Current discussions in Washington over the anticipated reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) this year raise concerns about whether funding under the Act will cover the programs needed to help women experiencing intimate partner violence, a conference at John Jay College in New York was told Tuesday.

Bea Hanson

Bea Hanson. Photo by John Ramsey/TCR

Even the level of funds provided under the last reauthorization of the Act in 2013 is “at risk because (it) happened in the last administration,” said Bea Hanson, executive director of the NYC Domestic Violence Task Force. 

And those funds barely addressed all the needs of women under threat of sexual assault or abuse, added Hanson, who was previously Principal Deputy Director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice during the Obama Administration.

VAWA, passed in 1994, was the first piece of federal legislation designed to end violence against women. It was also a triumph for women’s groups that lobbied hard to persuade Congress to grant federal protection for women on the grounds that states were failing in their efforts to address this violence.

However, Lynn Rosenthal, who heads the Violence Against Women Initiative at the Biden Foundation, expressed concern that VAWA under the Trump administration would reduce protections for LGBTQ women and immigrant women.

“There’s a real fear that VAWA is moving backwards in 2018,” said Rosenthal, who served as the first-ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women from 2009-2015.

The funds allocated under the 2013 reauthorization—$465 million—were barely enough to address the scope of the problem, she pointed out.

“We never funded the innovations we need,” she said, noting that the funds amounted to a “rounding error” compared to other expenditures in the federal budget—even as the threats faced by women continued to grow.

“While overall rates of domestic violence have dropped by 63 percent since VAWA was passed, still, one in three women will experience some form of abuse by an intimate partner in their life,” she said.

Notably, 70 percent of those women will be under the age of 25.

Lynn Rosenthal

Lynn Rosenthal. Photo by John Ramsey/TCR

“It’s a burden borne by young women,” said Rosenthal.

While the future of VAWA is unclear, the question of whether or not states could adequately protect women who are survivors of violence has emerged as another major concern. 

According to Hanson, the states shouldn’t be left with this responsibility.

The problem with the state’s response is that some communities would receive help, while others would not, she said.

“There would be a huge slot in the country where nothing is happening, and that is why we need the broad brush that the federal government can offer,” Hanson added.

Of the vulnerable population VAWA aims to protect, undocumented immigrant women living in the US should be at the forefront, argued experts at the conference.

“We forget about those who don’t speak English and had to leave their home because of the sexual violence they faced in their country,” said Rocío García, program coordinator at VIP Mujeres, a nonprofit New York-based advocacy group that works with immigrants.

Yet under the Trump administration, undocumented immigrants are at great risk of losing whatever protection they had previously under VAWA.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose duties include supervision of the nation’s immigration courts, is conducting a broad review to question whether domestic or sexual violence should ever be recognized as persecution that would justify protection in the United States.

With approximately 19 million immigrant women and girls in the US, VAWA offers three forms of protection to undocumented immigrant women: “U” visas for victims of crime; “T” visas for victims of severe forms of trafficking; and “self-petitioning” visas.

See also: How Safe Are ‘Sanctuary Cities’?

Rescinding provisions of VAWA that aid undocumented women would be a mistake, García argued. 

“We need immigration relief,” she said.

“America is supposed to be for all of us, but these undocumented immigrants who are victims of abuse are still afraid.”

The two-day conference for the media, scholars, practitioners, and advocates on “The Hidden Crime: Covering Domestic Violence,” was co sponsored by the New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice, publisher of The Crime Report.

The conference ends Wednesday.

Megan Hadley is a reporter for The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers.