HARRISBURG, May 26, 2023 – State Senator Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks), chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, and Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) co-hosted a public hearing earlier this week in Harrisburg to discuss the effectiveness and accessibility of support services, preventive measures, and the socioeconomic impact that abuse has on individuals and families. 

The hearing, held at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, featured three panels of testimony from experts in public policy, law enforcement, and prevention of domestic violence.

“The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence stated that there were 3,209 unmet requests for service related to domestic violence in 2022. That is over 3,000 people dealing with a domestic violence incident last year that couldn’t be helped because we don’t adequately fund human services in Pennsylvania,” Muth said. “We must address these issues and ensure the programs that support domestic violence survivors have adequate state funding and resources.” 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking.

“Domestic violence is often an issue that’s overlooked, so I’m very pleased that we were able to hear directly from the folks on the ground supporting Pennsylvania’s survivors about what they need,” Schwank said. “The testimony made it clear that the legislature must step up and provide a consistent stream of financial support to adequately address domestic violence. As we head into budget season, it’s imperative that we take what we heard today and turn those words into action.”

Senator Muth and Senator Schwank have introduced Senate Bill 281 this session which would require that first time firearm owners receive training in areas of safe handling and storage of firearms, suicide awareness, child access awareness, domestic violence awareness, road rage awareness and prevention and safe interaction with law enforcement while carrying a firearm. Senator Schwank has also introduced Senate Bill 388 which would require schools to establish specific policies regarding dating violence, including reporting procedures for students, parents, legal guardians, or third parties; disciplinary procedures and penalties for students perpetrating dating violence against other students; and information regarding the Protection from Abuse law.  

Senate Bill 281 remains in the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Bill 388 remains in the Senate Education Committee.

Participants in the hearing included Beth Garrigan, CEO, Safe Berks; Deanna Dyer, Policy Director, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV); Lt. Mary Gausman, Pennsylvania State Police; Danni Beinschrotch, Legal Services Manager, PCADV; Hon. Christopher Mallios Jr., Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County; Aishwarya Sinha, Prevention Specialist, PCADV; and Kiara Allison, PhD., Title IX Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Officer, Widener University.  

All submitted testimony from the policy hearing and the full video is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy

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