On the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles Daily Report last week, the organization’s president Ed Martin railed against the Violence Against Women Act, claiming that the law is anti-family and “does nothing to help women.”
The Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013 with bipartisan majorities, expired in February, its reauthorization stalled in the Senate. The law offers protections to victims of violence and has improved the criminal justice response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the United States. It also provides funds for women’s shelters and hotlines, among other services. Its passage in 1994 marked the first time federal law acknowledged domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes.
In April, the House of Representatives passed a five-year reauthorization of the VAWA and included a provision that would allow transgender women access to women’s shelters. It also would prevent those who have been convicted of abuse or stalking from buying a firearm. The Senate has yet to take it up, and the NRA has told lawmakers they will “score” how lawmakers vote on the bill.
Martin was apparently upset that the law has helped women leave abusive partners and file complaints against them, which might mean perpetrators face some sort of consequence for their crime. “Yet the Violence Against Women Act trained workers to separate domestic couples as often as possible and to file a complaint against men which often cause them to lose their jobs and their employability,” Martin said.
Martin went on to make claims that distort the reality of domestic violence and its impact in the U.S.
“Statistics show intimate partner violence against men is comparable in frequency to violence against women,” Martin said, citing the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). NISVS data does show that a horrific number of people—36.4 percent of women, or 43.6 million, and 33.6 percent of men, or 37.3 million—have experienced intimate partner violence in the United States. But the same data also show that violence has a much worse impact on women; 1 in 4 women experience intimate partner violence, along with a related impact—which as defined by NISVS can include needing medical care or housing assistance, missing school or work, and experiencing PTSD—compared to 1 in 10 for men. And when it comes to severe physical violence, nearly 1 in 4 adult women report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, compared to approximately 1 in 7 adult men.
Meanwhile, women are still much more likely to be victims of domestic violence defined more broadly, with 76 percent of those crimes committed against females, compared to 24 percent for males, according to a Department of Justice report. By the DOJ definition, domestic violence includes rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault committed by intimate partners, immediate family members, or other relatives.
Martin made even more eyebrow-raising claims.
“More importantly, domestic violence has been decreasing for decades, and that started long before the billions of dollars of handouts from the Violence Against Women Act to feminist groups,” Martin said. “One’s home with a spouse has always been the safest place for both men and women, and spousal murder is thankfully very rare.”
Where to begin? Domestic violence has been on the decline, and many women can thank the VAWA for that. From 1994, when the VAWA was passed, to 2012, domestic violence declined 63 percent, according to the DOJ report. At least one study points to “the increased provision of legal services for victims of intimate partner abuse” as a main reason for the decline, which is exactly what the law provides.
Martin claims that spousal murder is very rare. But homicide is a leading cause of death for women 44 years and younger, and nearly half of female homicide victims were killed by a current or former male intimate partner, according to a 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control. The report found that 55 percent of homicides of women were related to partner violence.
“Rather than putting the woman first, [VAWA] creates a rigid system that seeks to separate men and women wherever possible and break up families far too often. That does nothing to help women,” Martin claims. “As Americans, we want the government to embrace pro-family policies that affirm marriage. That’s the best way to cause our society to flourish.”
It’s unclear why Martin believes that a woman’s home with a violent spouse is the safest place for her and her children to be, and how he can say leaving such a situation “does nothing to help women”—but then again, he also believes feminism causes obesity.