Congressional Hearings on Violence Against Women

IACP National Law Enforcement Leadership Initiative on Violence Against Women staff recently attended a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “VAWA Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence”.  The hearing was chaired by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The panel heard from victim advocates, survivors of violence, and others about both their individual experiences of and, more broadly, violence against women in the United States.

According to research, nearly two-thirds of all women killed by firearms were killed by an intimate partners. Firearms are the most frequently used weapons in intimate partner homicide, eclipsing all other weapons combined. In December 2013, the Police Chief Magazine Officer Safety Corner article Officer Safety in Domestic Violence Responses highlighted important steps for law enforcement leaders to take to address these issues. Lt. Mark Wynn (retired, Nashville Police Department, TN), author of the article, wrote “Personal experience and studies show that most domestic violence homicides occur while victims are attempting to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship. Additionally, of those victims, 76 percent of femicide cases involved at least one episode of stalking within 12 months prior to the murder and 85 percent of attempted femicide cases involved one episode of stalking within that same period.”

Addressing safety when responding to domestic violence calls is imperative for victims as well as officers. One of the individuals who spoke at the hearing, Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, Racine County Sheriff (WI), said the following: “… cops that risk their lives when they respond to domestic violence calls, rushing in to the middle of very dangerous and very intimate situations. We see the terror that abusers can create when they are armed. We see the impact on their wives and girlfriends, and on their children. We’re major proponents of community policing in Racine County, and if I have my officers on the street, working closely with our residents, I want to know that our laws are doing everything they can to keep guns out of abusive hands…”

For more information on the IACP’s violence against women resources and training, please visit http://www.theiacp.org/Violence-Against-Women.  To learn more and to share best practices pertaining to officer safety and wellness please visit http://www.iacp.org/CenterforOfficerSafetyandWellness or contact the Center staff at officersafety@theiacp.org. To read the additional testimonies from the hearing, please visit the Committee on the Judiciary webpage with details.

RESEARCH CITED: Violence Policy Center, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2008 Homicide Data (2010)  

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