Rockefeller meeting puts face on domestic violence issue

February 08, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Sen. Jay Rockefeller, left, listens to local law enforcement, social services representatives, and victims during a round table discussion regarding the Violence Against Women Act Friday at the Berkeley Co. DHHR in Martinsburg.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Patricia Greenlee never thought she would be a victim of domestic violence.

She never witnessed a domestic violence in her life. Her parents had been married for 52 years, and she and her four siblings all were college educated.

“I always thought that those people who didn’t have as much education, who didn’t live in good neighborhoods were those who dealt with domestic violence,” Greenlee told Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and more than 30 others gathered Friday near Martinsburg for a discussion on the issue and the Violence Against Women Act now pending in Congress.

Greenlee, who resides in Jefferson County (W.Va.), recounted almost daily emotional abuse in her 10-year marriage to a minister.

After they divorced, Greenlee said he returned to where she was residing in 2009 and he would have killed her had she been alone.

Instead, he attacked her then-friend from church who was with her and whom she later married.

Joseph Greenlee told Rockefeller on Friday that he needed 21 stitches in his chin as a result of the altercation with his wife’s ex-husband, who wielded a butcher knife.

Patricia Greenlee said her ex-husband ultimately served four months in jail and recounted not knowing when he was released from jail until he walked past her with smirk on his face in Walmart.

Patricia Greenlee, who joined other survivors, law enforcement and others working on the front lines of domestic violence services on a 10-member panel, said she was determined to attend the discussion to put a face on the issue.

Rockefeller said the meeting was “not a cure” but part of a process that helps deepen his understanding of the domestic violence issue and possibly be able to do something about it.

“I don’t think there is anybody in this room who hasn’t been moved in one way or another,” Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller told members of the panel that he has a “small streak of optimism” that the 1994 Violence Against Women Act would be re-authorized by Congress this year. It expired in 2011.

The Senate is slated to vote on the legislation Tuesday, Rockefeller said. Last year, West Virginia received $3.9 million for use by local law enforcement agencies and victims’ service organizations, and Ann Smith of Shenandoah Women’s Center told Rockefeller that the funding the agency receives amounts to about $100,000 or one-sixth of their budget. 

Some Republicans have objected to new provisions that they say go too far when it extends new protections for gays, lesbians, immigrants and Native American women, according to The Associated Press. 

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s amendment concerning the provisions was defeated Thursday by a 65-34 vote, according to The Associated Press. Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both voted against Grassley’s amendment, according to the U.S. Senate’s website.

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