For the first time in its history, the Department of Justice observed June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to raise awareness about the vulnerability of older people to domestic abuse and sexual violence. In ceremonial and educational events on both coasts, top Justice Department officials came together with workers in the field to raise awareness about the vulnerability of the elder population to abuse and violence. Read more about the Department’s events.
Ending Abuse in Later Life
As you may know, elder abuse victims face unique obstacles in getting the help and services they need. Age or disability may increase the isolation of older individuals. Victims may refrain from seeking help or calling the police due to shame or embarrassment, perhaps because the abuse was committed by an adult child or grandchild, spouse, friend or caregiver. Myths about sexual assault–that only young women are raped, for example–coupled with a failure to see older individuals as sexual beings can prevent medical and other professionals from recognizing indicators of sexual assault when they are dealing with older victims.
Through its Abuse in Later Life Program, the Office on Violence Against Women has provided over $26 million in funding to 78 communities throughout the nation since 2002. An appropriate and comprehensive response to older victims must take into account the unique challenges these victims face and improve system-wide responses to older victims.
A multidisciplinary approach, involving medical personnel, social service workers, law enforcement and the courts, is critically needed to address cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. You can find more information here: http://www.inpea.net/weaad.html .
Violence Against Women Act News
Last week, the Department of Justice clarified that the criminal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) apply with equal force in cases when the victim and perpetrator are of the same sex. The Department is working to ensure that all U.S. Attorney offices are aware of the law’s applicability to LGBT relationships. In addition to publishing an Office of Legal Counsel opinion on the subject, the Department has provided notice of the opinion to the U.S. Attorney offices. This confirms that Department of Justice prosecutors have access to all available tools to protect victims of domestic violence and stalking whether they be in same sex or opposite sex relationships. This does not represent a change in the law, nor will it narrow or otherwise impact VAWA’s existing criminal applications. Rather, it clarifies to the extent that there was any doubt that VAWA is inclusive and protective of women and men, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Read more.
Congress is now getting ready to debate the 2011 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently convened its first hearing on the reauthorization to discuss emerging issues and areas of improvement for legislation. You can view the entire hearing on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s website and read my testimony.
Fiscal Year 2010 Grants
Thank you to everyone for submitting proposals for the Fiscal Year 2010 grant cycle. All of the program solicitations are now closed. Successful applicants will be notified of their grant awards by September 30, 2010. We will release Fiscal Year 2011 solicitations beginning in late fall to early winter. Please check OVW’s website for updates.
I would like to let all of you know that Catherine Pierce has recently joined the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), to focus specifically on issues related to girls, something which has been a passion of hers for years. This is an exciting new venture for her, after having spent most of the past 15 years here at OVW. This work, and our field, has tremendously benefited from her passion, creativity, and dedication to eliminating crimes of violence against women and caring compassionately for survivors. We are enormously grateful to her for her years of service and leadership in the field. Please join us in wishing her well in her new position at OJJDP.
With deep respect and gratitude,
Susan B. Carbon
U.S. Department of Justice
Updated: April 2012