Approval of Violence Against Women Act hits home locally
'The repercussions are irreversible'
Reporter: Maggie Vespa
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It is more than enough to make you stop and think: just how many women do you know, who have been, or are victims of domestic violence?
Before you answer, take a look at these numbers.
These days in the United States, one in every four women will be the victim of domestic violence, at some point in her life.
Annually, 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner.
That works out to more than 3,600 women per day.
And here's the really shocking number. Domestic violence in the US, results in 16,800 homicides every single year.
That's all according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Thursday Congress took a historic swing in the fight against this terrifying with the House's passing of the 'Violence Against Women Act'.
As 9OYS found out, the ripple effect of this vote hits southeastern Arizona on several levels.
"She reported it. Nothing could be done. She was afraid of him," said one friend, at the time.
It has been just over a year, since tragedy struck a Tucson family.
The date was February 13th, 2012, and the victim was 31 year-old Claudia Pasqual.
Police said the local hair stylist and mother of two was gunned down by an ex boyfriend, against whom she had a restraining order.
Fast forward 12 months, friend and coworker Brooke Arispe says the pain is subsiding.
9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked, "How are you holding up?"
"I think we're all holding up as well as can be expected," said Arispe.
But she adds the horrific lesson, is fresh as ever.
"It definitely made us all aware of how fragile life is and that our lives can be at the hands of other dangerous people sometimes," she said.
And those dangerous people became more powerful last year when Congress failed to renew the Violence Against Women Act.
Heads of Emerge, a local group aimed at helping victims, say women felt abandoned.
"It left this question mark, this cloud as to whether their legal protections were going to continue," said COO Ed Mercurio-Sakwa.
The hold-up came in democrats' push for stronger protections for certain demographics.
Republicans wanted a "one-size-fits-all" law.
Thursday, the House approved the first, tailored version.
Mercurio-Sakwa says the clause concerning undocumented immigrants will hit home regularly.
"If somebody who is undocumented, is partnered with somebody who is here as a legal citizen, that person can use that to help to manipulate and exert power and control," he said.
He adds he champions action on any level, and that's a sentiment echoed by Arispe, who says Pasqual's death changed many views on this ever-present threat.
"We certainly take it far more serious than we ever did before, because the repercussions are irreversible."
Lawmakers originally passed VAWA in 1994.
This newly update version protects undocumented immigrants from being deported, once they come forward as victims.
Instead, it allows them to remain in the country and apply for citizenship, while their case is progressing.
This bill also changes how abusers are prosecuted, when the crime occurs on a Native American reservations, by giving more jurisdiction, and essentially more power, to tribal courts.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, or you know someone who is, there are several resources out there, aimed at helping you.
To contact EMERGE, call 795-8001, or visit their website by clicking here
To call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, dial 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also visit their website by clicking here