A Proclamation from the President: The 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law on September 13, 1994. The President issued a proclamation commemorating that anniversary. You can read the full text of that proclamation below.
Twenty years ago, our Nation came together to declare our commitment to end violence against women. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), written by then United States Senator Joe Biden and signed into law on September 13, 1994, changed the way our country responds to domestic abuse and sexual assault. At a time when many considered domestic abuse to be a private family matter and victims were left to suffer in silence, this law enshrined a simple promise: every American should be able to pursue her or his own measure of happiness free from the fear of harm.
On the anniversary of this landmark legislation, we rededicate ourselves to strengthening the protections it first codified, and we reaffirm the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse.
The Violence Against Women Act created a vital network of services for victims. It expanded the number of shelters and rape crisis centers across America and established a national hotline. The law improved our criminal justice system and provided specialized training to law enforcement, helping them better understand the unique challenges victims face. It spurred new State laws and protections and changed the way people think about domestic abuse; today, more women are empowered to speak out, and more girls grow up aware of their right to be free from abuse.
Last year, I was proud to renew our pledge to our mothers and daughters by reauthorizing VAWA and extending its protections — because no matter where you live or who you love, everybody deserves security, justice, and dignity. These new protections make Native American communities safer and more secure and help ensure victims do not face discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when they seek assistance. They provide our law enforcement officials with better tools to investigate rape and increase access to housing so no woman has to choose between a violent home and no home at all. And my Administration continues to build on the foundation of this legislation, launching new initiatives to reduce teen dating violence and to combat sexual assault on college campuses.
VAWA has provided hope, safety, and a new chance at life for women and children across our Nation. With advocates, law enforcement officers, and courageous women who have shared their stories joined in common purpose, our country has changed its culture; we have made clear to victims that they are not alone and reduced the incidence of domestic violence. But we still have more work to do.
For as long as it takes, my Administration will keep pushing to make progress on our military bases, in our homes, at schools, and across our country.
Two decades later, a tireless effort has yielded a better, stronger Nation. And on the anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, we continue to work toward a more perfect society, where the dreams of our mothers and daughters are not limited by fear and where every person can feel safe.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the Twentieth Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. I call upon men and women of all ages, communities, organizations, and all levels of government, to work in collaboration to end violence against women.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
Too many women continue to live in fear in their own homes, too many victims still know the pain of abuse, and too many families have had to mourn the loss of their loved ones. It has to end — because even one is too many.
“Even One Case is Too Many”: Vice President Biden Marks the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act
VP Biden on Domestic Violence: ‘It’s Never, Never, Never the Woman’s Fault’
Published on Sep 9, 2014
Vice President Joe Biden on Today show’s Tamron Hall Tuesday morning. “This whole culture for so long has put the onus on the woman,” he said. “What were you wearing, what did you say, what did you do to provoke? That is never the appropriate question.”
He said the NFL “did the right thing, whether it was for the right reasons or spontaneously enough,” after video leaked of Ray Rice punched fiancé on the face unconscious in the elevator
Sorry Joey B, there are cases and incidents where women start, provoke and instantiate violence. I kmow several ladies who start fights against their “men” and run to the phone to call 911. It’s ignorant tyo assume no woman should ever be hit in defense of ones own safety. Think not…..
Jay Z ATTACKED, SOLANGE vs JAY Z elevator fight FULL VIDEO
Now I heard not one single person, women’s group or law enforcement agency speak up or out over this. I did hear numerous jokes. I guess domestic violence is just fine & dandy when a man is on the receiving end.
Twenty years ago this week, President Clinton signed into law the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) — a landmark law that empowered women and children to expose and prosecute domestic violence. The signing of the law marked the end of an arduous road to pass the legislation and put our society on the path toward effectively combating such heinous abuses. Vice President Joe Biden, then a U.S. Senator, not only authored VAWA, but helped drive it through Congress and deliver it to the President’s desk.
Today, standing in front of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives, Vice President Biden reflected on how far we’ve come in our ability — and willingness — to address domestic violence:
Even just 20 years ago, few people wanted to talk about violence against women as a national epidemic, let alone something to do something about. No one even back then denied that kicking your wife in the stomach, or smashing her in the face, or pushing her down the stairs in public was repugnant. But our society basically turned a blind eye. And hardly anyone ever intervened, directly intervened — other than my father and a few other people I knew.
And no one — virtually no one called it a crime. It was a family affair. It was a family affair. Laws — state laws when we attempted at a state or a federal level to design laws to prevent actions that were said that we now are celebrating, we were told, I was told, many of us were told that it would cause the disintegration of the family. That was the phrase used. It would cause the disintegration of the family.
“This was the ugliest form of violence that exists,” he said, and though many wanted to see these crimes remain hidden in the shadows, the Vice President was committed to bringing them out into the light. “We had to let the nation know,” he said, “because I was absolutely convinced — and remain absolutely convinced — in the basic decency of the American people, and that if they knew, they would begin to demand change.”
“The only way to change this culture was to expose it . . . the best disinfectant is sunlight.”
Change could not come soon enough for the victims of domestic violence. Many summoned the courage to share their stories before Congress in order to convey exactly why the nation needed to act:
These were stories of survivors from all walks of life, all parts of the country, North, South, East and West, and Midwest. One young woman I remember had her head put in the vice on a workbench by her father, crushing her skull, as punishment and abuse. Another who had both her arms broken with a hammer by her husband because she didn’t respond quickly enough. Several others had their heads beaten with pipes by the men who professed their great love for them; a 15-year-old girl stabbed by her ex-boyfriend who had just been released from prison for beating her before. So many other cases, a famous journalist whose daughter who was killed after having a stay-away order in the Mid-Atlantic states, and her husband following her to Massachusetts because there was no computer system to be able to know it was done, they let him loose. And he killed her.
More than anything, as we painted this honest picture of what was going on in America, public opinion began to change. As more men — I might add — and women, but men spoke out, as well, minds began to change. And the terms of the debate shifted.
Four years after it was first introduced, VAWA finally passed Congress and was signed into law on September 13, 1994.
Since then, VAWA has been reauthorized three times:
- In 2000, when we added the definition of dating violence to protect women from violent partners
- In 2005, when we added a new training program for health-care providers to screen patients for domestic abuse so they could better address their psychological and physical needs
- In 2013, when — despite Republican opposition — we ensured services would be available anywhere to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“When violence against women is no longer societally accepted, no longer kept secret; when everyone understands that even one case is too many. That’s when it will change.”
Though we’ve come a long way as a society, the Vice President made it clear that much work remains:
We have so much more to do, because there’s still sex bias that remains in the American criminal justice system in dealing with rape — stereotypes like she deserved it, she wore a short skirt still taint prosecutions for rape and domestic violence. We’re not going to succeed until America embraces the notion — my father’s notion — that under no circumstance does a man ever have a right to raise a hand to a woman other than in self-defense — under no circumstance; that no means no, whether it’s in a bedroom, or on the street, on in the back of a car — no means no. Rape is rape — no exceptions.
Until we reach that point, we are not going to succeed. But I believe that we can get to that point. It’s still imperfect, but the change is real that’s happening.
To pursue that progress, the Vice President announced that he will hold a Summit on Civil Rights and Equal Protection for Women in order to expand civil rights remedies in the law — because, as he said, “You can’t talk about human rights and human dignity without talking about the right of every woman on the planet to be free from violence and free from fear.”
It’s a right that flows from the document behind me — the equal protections clause — inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And it’s enshrined in every document we pay tribute to. And it’s the right that measures the character of the nation. It’s the single-most significant and direct way to measure the character of a nation — when violence against women is no longer societally accepted, no longer kept secret; when everyone understands that even one case is too many. That’s when it will change.
Double standards usually never work.