State lawmakers in the Progressive Women’s Caucus are introducing resolutions to recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness month in Michigan.
The resolutions, introduced by state Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), co-chair of the PWC Gender Violence Task Force, and PWC member state Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), are intended to create awareness for advocates and survivors of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a very serious problem that affects every community, regardless of career, wealth or background,” Bayer said. “It’s so important for all of us to work together to speak up and speak out so victims of abuse know that they are not alone. To tell them that we see you, we hear you, and that we will continue to share their truths and work toward a world in which domestic violence no longer exists.”
The resolutions will serve as part of a larger legislative rollout throughout the month, which will include introduction of legislation to “fill the glaring holes” in Michigan’s laws and protections for victims. Under current state law, domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in which an individual uses physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, or economic abuse to control another person.
In 2017, there were more than 90,000 reported victims and 105 murders related to domestic violence, according to a publication from the Michigan State Police. But the PWC says this statistic does not represent the actual number of victims of domestic violence. According to the caucus, a number of instances go unreported due to numerous barriers, including the stigma that prevents survivors from coming forward.
“In order to adequately address domestic violence in our state, we must call it out for what it truly is: an epidemic,” Yancey said in a press release Wednesday. “Dedicating a month of awareness across Michigan is an important first step toward protecting the safety and public health of all our residents — but our work can’t and won’t end here.”
Domestic Violence Awareness month, designated by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, was first observed in 1987. In 1989, U.S. Congress passed the first commemorative legislation and has been passed every year since.
The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994 and combined new provisions to hold offenders accountable and provide better resources for victims. This legislation was up for renewal in February, and the U.S. House of Representatives voted to keep the law and expand protections.
The GOP-controlled Senate has not yet passed the legislation over concerns about regulations regarding gun owners with a history of domestic violence charges.