Domestic Violence Awareness Month: A Reminder of Our Perpetual Responsibility

By Representative Frank Guinta

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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.


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Congressman Frank Guinta, a Republican, is the  Representative from New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District.

To read Representative Guinta’s full bio, click here

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Senator Shaheen Stands with Survivors this DVAM

By Senator Jeanne Shaheen

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On October 7th, 2016, just over a year after my initial meeting with sexual assault survivor Amanda Nguyen, my legislation to establish basic rights for survivors of sexual assault was signed into law by President Obama. The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act, also known as the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016, creates the first federally codified rights specifically for sexual assault survivors, and for the first time would allow survivors the opportunity to enforce those rights in federal court. Today I can say with certainty that our nation’s laws stand firmly on the side of sexual assault survivors. The basic rights in this new law include:

  • The right to have a sexual assault evidence collection kit preserved without charge for the entire relevant statute of limitations.
  • The right to be notified in writing 60 days prior to the destruction of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
  • The right to request further preservation of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
  • The right to be informed of important results of a sexual assault forensic examination.
  • The right to not be charged for a forensic exam.

While the journey to pass this groundbreaking legislation was a relatively short one, it follows a long path of survivors and advocates calling for change in our system. And when Amanda Nguyen walked into my office last summer and shared her heartbreaking story, I knew that changes had to be made to ensure the justice system was on survivors’ side. So, we got to work on legislation and with input from Amanda Nguyen and dozens of nationally-recognized experts in the sexual assault advocacy community, we developed a bill that garnered incredible bipartisan and bicameral support, shuttling it all the way to the President’s desk.

Amidst the partisan bickering and gridlock in Congress, this law demonstrates that citizens can still effect positive change and that bipartisan progress is still possible. Sexual assault remains one of the most underreported crimes and I hope that these basic rights will encourage more survivors to come forward and pursue justice. Make no mistake, there’s still much more work to be done to change the culture around sexual assault, and I will continue to lead efforts in the Senate for survivors like Amanda.


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Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, is a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.

To read Senator Shaheen’s full bio, click here