Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has introduced the Violence Against Women Health Initiative Act as part of her effort to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which she co-authored in 1994. The bill is designed to strengthen the ability of health care providers to recognize victims of domestic violence and prevent them from being victimized in the future.
“Domestic and sexual violence is all too common in the United States. Nearly one in four women report experiencing violence in their life which is a tragedy,” said Slaughter, “The health care system is uniquely positioned to take a leading role in fighting and responding to intimate partner violence.”
The bill would focus on training doctors and nurses in spotting signs of domestic violence and in providing counsel to victims in an effort to prevent future assaults. Slaughter’s office estimates that measures to prevent situations of domestic violence by intervening earlier would save the health care system upwards of $8.3 billion per year.
It is estimated that every nine seconds, a woman is abused in the United States and nearly one-third of women in the United States report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend some time in their lives.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is due to expire at the end of this year. Since its passage, the rate of intimate partner violence had dropped by 53 percent. The Republican proposal for the fiscal year 2011 would dramatically cut funding to VAWA by an estimated $170 million.