Today, Rep. John Lewis joins millions of Americans in marking October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
This is a good time to highlight the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), landmark legislation which included the SMART Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Act sponsored by Rep. Lewis. Before the passage of VAWA, domestic violence was not managed like a dangerous offense by law enforcement officers. VAWA sharpened their focus on the dangers of domestic violence and engaged police to deal with it as the severe threat to public safety that it is.
Despite this important legislation, there is still much more work to be done, as recent news involving the National Football League demonstrates. Twenty people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. Nearly half of all women and one in five men experience sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.
"As we mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let us all strive to renew our commitment to bring an end to the vicious cycle of oppression and victimization in all our relationships once and for all. We must admit that as a nation aggression plays too active a part of our daily lives. A sense of entitlement and a demand for immediate satisfaction can give rise to the worst kinds of dehumanization and abuse.
"We need to be reminded that every human being is a spark of the divine, and everyone has the God-given right to be free, to make their own decisions, and chart their own destiny. We must do much more to support women, men, and children who are victimized by violence to find them safe harbor, a secure, effective environment where they can recover and heal, and the resources and services they need to re-establish an independent, violence-free life."