LOS ANGELES, March 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Violence Against Women Act was a landmark victory when it was signed into law in 1994; last month the Congress again made history, voting to sustain funding to the Domestic Violence Hotline and other services, as well as enhancing it with added protections for survivors. Yet, even with these support systems in place, each day in the United States, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends, and statistics show that 85% of women remain in a relationship where domestic violence has been reported. Why?
There are many factors that force victims to remain or return, including isolation, entrapment, coercive control, financial issues, lack of support and safely-accessible resources, as well as fear for their own lives and those of their loved ones. Yet there is also another important reason: "Like all mothers, victims of domestic violence do not want to be separated from their children," said Cassandra Loch, President and CEO of Prototypes, a non-profit organization that serves 12,000 people annually. "In our experience, when law enforcement is contacted in a domestic violence situation, dual arrests are likely to take place, and the children are more likely to enter the foster care system. This is an important factor in mothers' reluctance to contact the authorities when facing domestic violence."
Keeping mothers with their children through the recovery process is key to Prototypes' successful 26-year history. At Prototypes, 80% of women in residential treatment are survivors of domestic violence, and 71% of their children have witnessed violence in their homes or communities. The organization's Domestic Violence Resource Centers serve more than 500 children each year, many of whom display symptoms comparable to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Witnessing violence in the home is the strongest risk factor for perpetuating the cycle: For example, boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.