Domestic violence focus of discussion

MARTINSBURG – Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., will lead a discussion on the need for continued federal funding for domestic violence support programs on Friday.

The longtime federal senator will hold a roundtable discussion on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the Berkeley County DHHR conference room on Mid-Atlantic Parkway in Martinsburg.

The discussion will include participants on the front lines of domestic violence services, including those in the judicial system, law enforcement officials, advocates and counselors.

Those in attendance will touch on ways to curb the tide of domestic violence, sexual assault and related crimes as well as ways to help survivors and how to share resources, according to a press release from Rockefeller’s office.

Last year the VAWA failed to pass the Senate because of obscure issues in it, such as the bill’s inclusion of additional visas for abused illegal immigrants, its treatment of same-sex couples and its strengthening of American Indian courts.

Congress originally passed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the first major federal initiative to combat domestic violence and related crimes. Rockefeller was an original co-sponsor of the legislation and has co-sponsored the reauthorizations of 2000, 2005 and 2011.

The laws in the act provide nationwide programs and services, including community violence prevention programs, protections for victims who have been evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking, funding for victim assistance services, programs and services for victims with disabilities and legal aid for survivors of violence. West Virginia typically receives more than $3.6 million per year from the Violence Against Women Act, for use in local programs.

Many organizations and programs throughout West Virginia and in Parkersburg receive funding through the legislation to help those in need.

In 2011, the Family Crisis and Intervention Center had 3,600 contacts with clients in its eight county service area in their residential shelter and outside with men, women and children of all ages, said Emily Larkins, director of services for the center, in June 2012.