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Paying Tribute To Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Rep. Charles B. Rangel

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Mr. Speaker, as October comes to a close, I rise today to celebrate what was Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as bring attention to the one of many serious issues mainly women and children in our society are struggling with domestic violence. In the United States, every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten by stalkers or her partner. And believe it or not, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury for women in America. According to a study, victims of domestic violence are more than rapes, muggings and car accidents combined. It really is difficult to see that even in this great Nation of ours such unfortunate events can take place. We, as a nation, must take collective action to make the case that violence is not the solution and it never is acceptable.

Each year, ten million children in this country have witnessed various forms of violence within the household. This, itself, I believe, is unfortunate. The result of these acts has weakened women's voice and positioned children in a situation where they have to grow up without parents.

There is no doubt that domestic violence creates viral impacts for our society. Each year, the Federal government injects hundreds of million of dollars fighting against the cause by creating support programs. In a smaller scale, many have suffered physically and emotionally. In addition, victims would be forced out of work due to injuries; this further positions them in a more economical disadvantage. Women in this country and around the world deserve more respect. They are the important element in our society. In fact, they are the mothers of our Nation's future. This epidemic must be stopped.

Many of us know that violence against women has existed for a very long time in our history. When the settlers set foot in America, they adopted an old English common law, which authorized a husband to use force upon his wife, for correction purposes. Not until 1871, that we began to see women's liberation movements, which ultimately abrogated men's legal right from committing violence on his spouse, at least in Alabama. It became a nationwide concern in 1970 when the issue was put under magnifying lens, while grassroots movements began to grow. Prior to the movement in 1970s, domestic violence was not considered a public issue, since violence mainly took place in one's private property. At the time, the government had taken measures to ensure victim's access to care and support. Though not until a decade later that legislations were proposed as an attempt to take on the issue. In 1994, two legislations were enacted as an effort to respond to this ongoing problem, the Family Violence Prevention and Service Act and the Violence Against Women Act. In 2006, the Congress reauthorized VAWA 2005 and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act 2005. These legislations have created new programs to assist and ensure the safety, well-being of survivors and victims. I am also pleased to see that the President has been showing strong support for this campaign. For FY2011, President Obama requests $649 million dollars for violence against women programs. As of last year, there are 1,920 shelters to house and assist victims, nation-wide. Our Nation has come a long way on this issue and we still have many more unmet challenges to face. Brighter days are ahead of us.

I would like to take this moment to recognize all my colleagues in the House of Representatives, government agencies in the great State of New York, local non-profit organizations such as Greater New York City Chapter of The Links, Dominican Women's Development Center, Safe Horizon 100 Black Women, and many others in my Congressional District who have shown tremendous dedication and enthusiasm to fight domestic violence, whether it is to seek for more protection or to ensure that support programs continued to be funded.

Mr. Speaker, in my very own district a not-for-profit organization, We All Really Matter or W.A.R.M., is leading the community to reach out to battered women who have just been released from the shelters. On the 27th of October, W.A.R.M. will be holding its Second Annual Domestic Violence Panel to present positive faces of women who have been abused. This event will be a great resource for the community to learn more about domestic violence as well as allowing victims the break the silence.

We must continue to do all we can to eradicate violence in every household in America. I strongly urge victims to speak up and reach out to your local community about the issue. Do not allow shame and fear to silence you. The best way to solve a problem is to confront it, not to shy away from it. You are the voice of change in our community. Our commitment is to ensure that there will be no more victims. We all really matter and we all deserve to live in a community where there is no place for violence.