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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Kentucky

First Lady Jane Beshear today joined the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA) and legislators to help promote October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Kentucky.  

“Nearly one-third of all American women report being abused at some point in their lives.  Abuse affects more than just individuals -- families and communities suffer, too,” said Mrs. Beshear. “Domestic Violence Awareness Month is the opportunity for all Kentuckians to learn how to recognize the signs of domestic abuse and to show support for victims as they work to regain control of their lives.”

For the past four years, Mrs. Beshear has helped KDVA and anti-domestic violence advocates sponsor Shop & Share Day, a one-day drive to gather goods and necessities for domestic violence shelters across Kentucky. In 2012, the drive raised more than $782,000 in combined goods and monetary donations. 

During today’s ceremony, KDVA issued its 2012 “Speak My Name” list. The list includes the names of 26 women who died at the hands of their abusers in Kentucky between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012.

Advocates for domestic violence survivors also celebrated the accomplishments of the movement:  2012 year marks the 18th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, a broad-based federal law first passed in 1994 in response to the increasing violence against women in America. 

KDVA President Anne Perkins today called on state legislators to pass a new dating violence bill during the next legislative session. Research shows that young women between the ages of 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of intimate partner violence and the state’s current protective order law does not protect victims of dating violence. Kentucky is one of only four states that do not provide protection for dating violence victims.

“In celebrating the successes of the Violence Against Women Act, we must acknowledge the work still left to do,” said Perkins, who also serves as executive director of Safe Harbor, a regional domestic violence program in Ashland. “Kentucky women continue to lose their lives at the hands of their batterers.  Meanwhile, victims of dating violence are not eligible for domestic violence protective orders – the one tool that allows us to put safety precautions in place to help prevent re-victimization.”

Rep. Joni Jenkins announced a new legislative initiative aimed at training public school staff on teen dating violence.

“It is absolutely important and special that we honor the strides that have been made in putting a stop to domestic violence in Kentucky. However, there are milestones left to be reached during our battle to ensure the safety of all Kentuckians suffering from domestic violence,” said Rep. Jenkins. “I have filed bills previously to extend protections to some of our youngest and more vulnerable victims within middle and high school age range, and will continue to work on guaranteeing their safety within the Legislature this coming year.”

“Despite the protections we afford those suffering from abuse, mostly women and children, we have miles to go,” said Rep. John Tilley.  “Unfortunately, we’re one of only four states not offering protective orders to those in dating relationships, unless living together. This measure would prevent needless abuse and save the criminal system millions.”

In addition to releasing the 2012 “Speak My Name” listing, KDVA today released a new awareness poster, “Yes to Healthy Relationships”.  The poster is the first in a series of resources geared toward younger survivors. 

KDVA is committed to ending intimate partner violence, promoting healthy relationships and engaging communities through social change, economic empowerment, educational opportunities and other prevention strategies.  For more information on KDVA, please visithttp://www.kdva.org/.

SOURCE: Commonwealth of Kentucky

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