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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora