By Paul R. Pace, News staff
In recent years, great strides have been made in federal legislation to aid those experiencing the effects of domestic violence.
While there is still room for improvement, social workers remain key players in helping domestic abuse victims and survivors both personally and through continuing advocacy efforts.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it provides an opportunity to educate social workers about the many progressive policy advancements that have taken place and to reinforce social work’s important role in helping survivors of abuse.
Tricia Bent-Goodley, chairwoman of the NASW National Committee on Women’s Issues, focuses her research on violence against women and girls, HIV prevention and healthy-relationship education.
“Domestic Violence Awareness Month may only come once a year, but domestic violence happens every single day,” said Bent-Goodley, who also is a professor of social work at Howard University School of Social Work. “We can make a difference to prevent domestic violence — every one of us.”
The Violence Against Women Act, passed into law in 1994, was a milestone reaction to domestic violence. With it came the creation of a coordinated community reaction to domestic abuse.
Bent-Goodley said the bill increased public awareness of domestic abuse and set systemic laws and criminal justice responses to those impacted by violence at home.
While stigma associated with domestic violence victims has softened since 1994, Bent-Goodley said female victims still experience negative stereotypes and are treated differently because of the victim status.
“We still have a long way to go,” she said.
On the positive side, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act was passed in February, containing important mandates to include cultural competency in domestic violence services, Bent-Goodley said.
In addition, the reauthorization includes provisions outlined in the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act. It requires that colleges and universities provide information to students and employees about dating violence, sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.
From the October 2013 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story after logging in.