By Representative Frank Guinta
Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) at the University of New Hampshire is doing important work to prevent sexual and domestic violence in our state. During Domestic Violence Awareness month and always, I am proud to join them to prevent violence of any kind.
Granite Staters’ safety and security is my highest priority in Congress, where I represent the First District, including the University of New Hampshire and almost 700,000 residents. Statistics show that a significant number of people will experience some form of physical abuse in their lives, domestic abuse a prevalent one. An intimate partner is typically the perpetrator. Both men and women may be victims, more often women.
Recognizing the warning signs and reporting abuse are critical to preventing such incidents, potential and real. By sharing information with a family member or friend, a trained professional or legal authority, a Granite Stater could save her life or that of another.
We as a nation must do our part. We must encourage victims to come forward and take a strong stand against criminal behavior. In 2016, it is staggering that debate surrounds what civil society and governments should do to eradicate this heinous crime. Violence against women should be intolerable.
It should be punishable to the fullest extent of the law. As Manchester’s mayor, I worked with the police department to reduce crime by 17 percent. Law enforcement officers across New Hampshire are eager and able to help Granite Staters in times of need.
The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) serves almost 15,000 people every year, providing counseling and legal assistance. I recently joined the group to challenge a state Supreme Court decision reversing New Hampshire’s Rape Shield Law, which ensures that sexual violence victims’ personal histories remain so, inaccessible to criminals seeking to litigate their victims’ private lives.
We won our argument and preserved a key legal tool to prosecute criminal offenders. The Rape Shield Law also helps to remove public stigma that may discourage victims from seeking justice. In Congress, in partnership with NHCADSV and bipartisan colleagues, I have pursued other initiatives to improve the public response to sex crimes. I requested $40 million dollars from the House Appropriations Committee, $5 million above the President’s funding request, to bolster the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) at the Office of Violence Against Women.
The SASP provides medical and legal aid to survivors and their families, aid that dramatically increases their recovery rates and criminal prosecutions. Just last month, the House approved the Survivors Bill of Rights with my full support. Because a minority of survivors report rape, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the bill requires authorities preserve forensic evidence, notify victims of results, and inform them of their rights under the law.
The Survivors Bill of Rights is just the latest effort in Congress to prevent sexual and domestic violence. My personal effort will continue long past October, a reminder of our perpetual responsibility to respect and protect victims of abuse, no matter their gender or station in life, and to serve justice.
Congressman Frank Guinta, a Republican, is the Representative from New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District.
To read Representative Guinta’s full bio, click here