The common-sense changes include tightening up definitions so that true victims get priority, removing harmful mandatory arrest practices, restoring the presumption of innocence to the accused, improving accountability and making sure educational programs provide sound factual information.
To make the law gender-inclusive, we are proposing the law be renamed the Partner Violence Reduction Act. Our changes retain 95 percent of the existing Violence Against Women Act provisions that have done incalculable good, while incorporating the lessons learned since VAWAís original enactment in 1994.
For persons who have been harmed by a partner or by a false accusation of abuse, the Partner Violence Reduction Act offers the prospect of healing and hope.
Natasha Spivack is treasurer of the Maryland-based group Stop Abusive and Violent Environments.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.