Charleston, WV - The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence will present Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer of the West Virginia House of Delegates with the Purple Ribbon Award on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at the Purple Gala held on October 26, 2017 at The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, W. Va.
The Purple Ribbon Award honors people who have gone beyond their professional commitment to increasing safety, raising awareness about domestic violence and helped to create hope for change at personal, public and institutional levels through their statewide and practical efforts.
“Delegate Fleischauer has been a champion for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking and children’s issues for years,” said Joyce Yedlosky, team coordinator for WVCADV. “She provides an analysis of legislative issues that seeks to protect victims, hold offenders accountable and challenge systems to provide the most effective response possible.”
The West Virginia Coalition Against Violence works to end personal and institutional violence in the lives of men, women and children. They are a network of state office and community organizations who aim to raise awareness and transform social, political and cultural attitudes that allow domestic violence to exist.
“It is an honor to work on behalf of victims who through mental and physical intimidation are often unable to speak for themselves,” said Delegate Fleischauer. “We have put into place many tools to help victims when they decide it is safe to change their lives.” Fleischauer noted that leaving a situation is not easy for many victims, either for economic reasons, or because it would make it more likely that they could be killed.
In 1998, Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of the landmark Domestic Violence Treatment and Prevention Act, which created new requirements for continuing education for the professionals involved in domestic violence cases. House Bill 2817 also provided new authority for Judges issuing protective orders to require safety plans for victims, and the bill required battering counseling for perpetrators.
Delegate Fleischauer also spearheaded successful efforts over many years to dramatically increase funding for shelters and legal services for domestic violence victims by including them as part of various filing fees for legal cases. That funding continues to this day.
For several years, Delegate Fleischauer has worked on the issue of human trafficking, sponsoring legislation that passed in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Although the Governor vetoed the 2015 bill, Fleischauer continued to press for its passage. Working with the Republican House leadership, the bill passed both Houses in 2016; a final agreed-upon version was on the agenda and failed during the last minutes of the session. House Bill 2318 was introduced in 2017 and finally passed in June of the special session this year. House Bill 4236, which passed in 2014, set up a statewide system to expedite forensic examinations of sexual assault victims. Delegate Fleischauer was lead sponsor, having helped to facilitate several years of negotiations with stake holders, including victims’ advocates and hospitals. Prior to passage of the bill, some women had to travel to other counties (almost always at night) and wait for hours before being provided with a proper examination to collect evidence of a rape. The provisions of the bill are intended to ensure that health care providers are properly trained and on staff during the day and night in all regions of the state.
In 2016, Delegate Fleischauer was a sponsor of House Bill 4362, which made strangulation a felony offense. Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence, but it had been difficult to charge as a felony because it does not necessarily lead to noticeable damage. Advocates and law enforcement representatives reported that some victims had been strangled repeatedly. Depending on the length of time, airflow resulting in death can be administered with the strength of a handshake. In appropriate cases, prosecutors can now charge perpetrators who restrict a person’s air intake or blood flow by applying pressure to their neck or throat with a felony.
According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010 Report, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.