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NY celebrates renewal of Violence Against Women Act

Ellen Abbott

Cheers are coming from all corners of central New York following the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act last week in Washington. The renewal of the law had been stalled for almost two years in the midst of House and Senate gridlock.

Upstate, law enforcement is one of the agencies applauding the renewal. Onondaga District Attorney William Fitzpatrck says it's an example of legislation that has really made a difference since it was passed in the mid-1990s.

"Since then to today, 2013, violence against intimate partners has dropped almost two-thirds, most importantly homicides; male victims have gone down about 45 percent since this was passed; female victims one-third."

Other programs that use federal funding from the violence against women act include training and services to deal with abuse to the elderly and to those people with disabilities. It also funds a preventive program for men and programs that pay for legal aid and training for nurses in emergency rooms that might be confronted with cases of abuse.
"Probably the most important thing," says Fitzpatrick, "is the education that women at a much more appropriate, and earlier age are introduced to this concept and are empowered and know that there are people in law enforcement that will listen to them and give them the respect and dignity they deserve and take their cases seriously."

The latest version of the legislation had been expanded to include more groups of victims, but had languished after House republicans blocked its renewal. Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman is glad lawmakers were able to finally come together in a bipartisan manner, but admits there's still work to be done.

"The gaps are we're still looking to change our culture, so everywhere we turn the attitudes that you've heard in the room today are what every survivor and victim hears. No one ever deserves to be abused, and whoever you are and where ever you go, our community supports you," she said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.