- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2011


October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and a time dedicated to recognizing the critical issues surrounding intimate-partner violence and the lethality risks associated with it. It is a time for attention to be focused on the problem, proactive steps to be taken and enhanced awareness disseminated to provide victim assistance.

In Kansas, however, domestic violence is losing its place as a priority issue. In Topeka, city leaders repealed the local law against domestic violence to save money on prosecution rather than impose employee furloughs to offset the costs. Therefore, victims of domestic violence there are discovering they have no recourse to escape the violence and hold their abusers accountable through the criminal justice system.

This failure to focus attention and do what must be done - at any cost - is sending the wrong message to abusers in Kansas and elsewhere. It gives them a free ride to continue their behavior and possibly critically injure or even kill their victims while reinforcing the sense of helplessness and hopelessness many victims already feel as a result of the abuse they have endured.

Domestic violence is about power and control. Because Topeka is failing to take a proactive and aggressive stance to face the challenges of domestic violence, victimization will continue. By failing to prosecute cases of domestic abuse, the state has reinforced the power and control already held by abusers.

Kansas needs to be creative and assertive in devising ways to help the victims in its communities who so desperately want to be freed from unwarranted abuse and want their cases prosecuted.

The inaction by Kansas to confront the problem head-on is a travesty for victims, who should be able to get the help they need and lower their risk for critical injury or death.


Adjunct professor

Department of Criminology, Law and Society

George Mason University


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