News / USA

    Philadelphia Cracks Down on Domestic Violence

    Police, shelters and advocacy groups team up

    Every year in the United States, about 1.3 million women are abused by their husbands or boyfriends, according the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
    Every year in the United States, about 1.3 million women are abused by their husbands or boyfriends, according the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Matthew Petrillo

    The Women Against Abuse shelter is the only refuge in Philadelphia for women escaping abusive relationships.

    The building’s location is a secret - for safety reasons. Its clients, like Sheila Armstrong, are afraid for their lives after having to flee violent husbands or boyfriends.

    “When he was beating me up, he picked up a vacuum cleaner, beating me with the vacuum cleaner," Armstrong says. "Waking up in the hospital, that is all I remember.”

    Unfortunately, the situation Armstrong found herself in is not unique. Every year in the United States, about 1.3 million women are abused by their husbands or boyfriends, according the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    Armstrong woke with a broken arm, two black eyes and a swollen lip. Without the Women Against Abuse shelter, Armstrong says she would have had nowhere to go.

    “They do not call as their first option," shelter official Pamela Ellerman says. "They call us when they run out of options.”

    Unfortunately, the facility can't help everyone who calls.

    The shelter has 100 beds, where women stay, often with their children, while looking for a permanent safe place. But the shelter is turning away more women than ever, 7,800 this year.  Requests for help have increased since the economic recession began in 2008, even as state and local governments have cut funding for their services.

    “We do not know what that means for the long-term," Ellerman says. "We are also well aware that what we are already providing is well inadequate to the need.”

    To try to meet the need, Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey helped create a citywide program, partnering the shelter, the district attorney's office, and legal and advocacy groups in a coordinated effort to combat domestic violence.  The police department rewrote the forms used to document domestic abuse to gather more details and data, and officers now follow up with victims.  

    “It is one of the most complicated crimes that we investigate, and the women's groups will tell you," Deputy Police Commissioner Patricia Giorgio-Fox says. "There is no easy answer to this.”

    Giorgio-Fox says police receive thousands of calls a year from women, but making arrests is often difficult, usually due to a lack of evidence. Since the new partnership began this year, domestic-related arrests increased more than seven percent during the first six months of 2011.  

    But Fox says police still need help from those being abused. “We can offer as much advice and counseling and help and alternatives as possible.  But until the victim decides it is time, it is very difficult to correct that kind of behavior.”

    Sheila Armstrong, who is now on the board of Women Against Abuse, agrees. She says increasing public awareness about domestic violence is the best way to prevent abuse.

    “I do not like the word ‘victims.’ Because most people want to look down and speak of you like a victim like you cannot handle yourself.”

    Other U.S. cities are looking to Philadelphia’s approach as a model for reducing domestic violence. Meanwhile, advocates for survivors of domestic abuse are urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which expired at the end of September. During the past 15 years, the law has provided more than $4 billion for programs and legal help for survivors of domestic abuse.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    Video Energy Lacking at Annual Offshore Oil Conference

    The slump in oil prices that began in 2014 has taken a toll on the industry but all express confidence it will end eventually

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora