Senate Democrats discuss domestic violence awareness and funding at Capitol hearing

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. discuss the effectiveness and accessibility of support services, prevention measures and the socio-economic impact that violence has on individuals and families.

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

“The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence said there were 3,209 unmet service requests related to domestic violence in 2022. This represents more than 3,000 people who experienced a domestic violence incident last year that did couldn’t be helped because we don’t fund enough human resources services in Pennsylvania,” Muth said. “We need to address these issues and ensure that programs that support victims of domestic violence have funding. and adequate public resources.

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

“Domestic violence is often an issue that gets overlooked, so I’m so glad we got to hear first-hand from people on the ground supporting survivors in Pennsylvania about what they need,” Schwank said. “The testimonies made it clear that the legislature must step up and provide a steady stream of financial support to adequately address domestic violence. As we head into budget season, it is imperative that we take what we heard today and turn those words into action.

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

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

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

All of the testimony submitted at the Policy Hearing and the full video are available at

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