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Examination of VAWA renewal finds that, for mothers, part of the answer is the children
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.
By pairing parenting skills education with physical and mental health services, Prototypes supports the bond between mother and child and works to break the cycle of violence, addiction and abuse, so kids can grow up to create happy, healthy relationships.
Prototypes will address these challenges and more as we "Celebrate Women in Recovery" on Thursday, April 4th at the California Endowment Center, at a free event headlined by speaker Dr. Neva Chauppette and co-sponsored by Friendly House LA. To register, visit www.Prototypes.org/events.
Most low-income mothers seeking treatment for addiction, mental illness and domestic abuse face a heartbreaking choice: Give up their children to a guardian or foster care and get help, or stay with their families and continue to suffer. Yet studies show that mothers who receive family-centered treatment have increased rates of post-treatment sobriety. For more than 25 years, Prototypes has pioneered the way we treat addiction by allowing mothers to stay with their children through recovery. Today, Prototypes operates from 13 sites throughout Southern California, annually providing 12,000 women, children and communities with life-saving counseling, treatment and critical life skills. Together, we're transforming communities, one family at a time.
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