Domestic Violence Advocacy: Background Checks to Save Lives

November 1st, 2013

On April 18, 2013, the lives of any person who knew Violeta Isakov, and all those who live in Bucks County, were impacted. On that Thursday evening, Violeta pulled into the parking lot of a Trevose dress shop, accompanied by her 16-year-old daughter. She was going to her final dress fitting for her wedding that would take place 10 days later. She never made it out of the car.

Violeta’s ex-husband, Kenneth Phillips, rammed the back of her car with his vehicle, trapping her and her daughter. He then walked over to the driver’s side of the car and shot her three times in the chest with a shotgun. She didn’t survive the attack. Her daughter sustained minor injuries as she tried to pull her mother into the passenger seat.

This should have never happened. Phillips had only been released from jail 2 ½ weeks earlier. He had served a three month sentence for a probation violation stemming from criminal charges in 2011, in which he had threatened Violeta’s life with a rifle. Phillips should have never had access to a firearm.

On average, nine women lose their lives to gun related domestic violence incidents every week. In Bucks County alone, shootings have been the cause of death for 28 individuals involved in a domestic violence incident since 2000. That is more than 42 percent of all of the domestic violence fatalities in Bucks County since that time. That doesn’t even account for those who have survived gun attacks.

This October, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, A Woman’s Place (AWP), the only domestic violence community benefit organization in Bucks County, is partnering with the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition (BCWAC) to create awareness around the shattering effects that guns have on the lives of individuals living in abusive situations. We are asking all residents of Bucks County to join us in taking action. Here are three ways you can help:

1.    Contact your district’s Members of Congress to show your support for House Bill (HB) 1010. This bill expands the requirements for background checks to purchases of all guns. Currently, background checks are not required to purchase “long guns”, which include most rifles and shotguns, including military-style assault weapons that were used in the mass shootings in Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO. Call the US Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 to reach your Senators and Representatives. For more information on HB1010, visit www.awomansplace.org.
2.    Spread the word about domestic violence awareness month, the proposed Bills, and the prevalence of gun related domestic homicides using social media.
3.    Ask nine people you know to do the same!

Statistics show that a woman living in a home with a gun is nearly three times more likely to be murdered than a woman living in a gun-free home. It is time that we, as a community, join together to make this county safer from gun violence and get one step closer to creating a flourishing future for everyone who lives and works here.

Thank you for advocating for a safer Bucks County.

About the contributors: Ifeoma U. Aduba, Executive Director of A Woman’s Place (AWP) and Nancy Morrill, Chair of Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition (BCWAC) have joined together to work on raising awareness on this very important piece of legislation.  For more information, visit www.awomansplace.org and  www.bcwac.org.

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