There is no question that domestic violence directed against women is a serious problem. Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop has called it women’s number-one health problem. The statistics reported in the popular press are staggering: Nearly one third of women in hospital emergency departments are there due to domestic violence, three out of four female homicide victims are killed by their husbands or lovers, and 6 million women are victims of abuse by people they know each year (Journal of the American Medical Association June, 1992).
Let us begin by first defining what abuse is: abuse is the use or threat to use physical, sexual, or verbal behavior to coerce the partner to do something one wants; to degrade or humiliate; to gain or maintain a sense of power or control; to act out ones anger inappropriately. Abusive behaviors may include subtle or covert harm as well as life threatening acts of violence. Yet, it seems to be that violence against an intimate partner does not seem to be as serious as other crimes. We know this, because less than half of our states view marital rape as a crime (History of Governor’ Commission on Domestic Violence, 2001). The Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence was established by the Weld/Cellucci administration in April 1992, shortly after domestic violence was declared a public health emergency in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence leads the nation in its comprehensive and innovative approach to addressing the crime of domestic violence. Some of its many accomplishments include:
· State funding for domestic violence prevention and intervention initiatives including: resources for district attorney’s offices, battered women’s programs and emergency shelters, legal services, school based teen dating violence programs, certified batters intervention programs, and judicial training. For FY01, state funding totaled over $23.4 million dollars.
· The publication of the Annual Prevention and Intervention Plan (House 1 budget) detailing domestic violence initiatives.
· The support of progressive domestic violence legislation including Chapter 209A, stalking law, firearms legislation, and uniform enforcement of out of state restraining orders.
· The first state wide Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Guidelines.
· The publication of The Children’s Paper, a comprehensive report focusing on the special needs of child victims of domestic violence including a wide range of recommendations.
· The publication of Safely Toward Self-Sufficiency, a report addressing the impact of victims of domestic violence receiving transitional assistance.
· The modification for statewide certification standards for batterer intervention programs.
· The publication of the Family Violence Prevention Guide (History of the Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence, 2001)
Domestic violence has been a priority for Cellucci since he...