Domestic violence is often shrouded in silence and stigma. It transcends age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and geography. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This time of awareness stands as a call to action and a promise of support for those affected.
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse.
The statistics surrounding domestic violence are staggering. In Arkansas, 40.8% of women and 34.8% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.
Nationwide, local domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 19,159 calls a day, an average of approximately 13 calls every minute.
The Arkansas General Assembly consistently reviews legislation designed to prevent domestic abuse, hold abusers accountable, and support victims.
In the 2023 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed ACT 849. This act adds aggravated assault on a family member or household member to past conduct that qualifies a person as a repeat offender for purposes of domestic battering in the first degree and domestic battering in the second degree.
In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed ACT 800, the Arkansas Phoenix Act. This act amends the statute of limitations for offenses involving domestic violence and provides for training to be given to law enforcement officers on additional topics that arise in which domestic violence is suspected.
Legislators will continue to review our laws regarding domestic violence in future legislative sessions.
Domestic violence is preventable. By raising awareness and providing education, we can work towards changing societal norms and behaviors that perpetuate violence.
If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, visit arkansasag.gov/resources/domestic-violence/lauras-card/ to find resources near you.