This week, following a request from Congressman Al Green (TX-09), the U.S. House of Representatives conducted a special order session to examine the issue of domestic violence in the United States. During his remarks in support of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Congressman Al Green stressed the need for Congress to maintain support for initiatives and existing programs, as well as legislation, which are aimed at ending domestic violence.
Congressman Al Green recognized Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) as one of his principal allies in the fight against domestic violence in America. He emphasized that this special order, which took place on Tuesday October 25, was a "bi-partisan effort" which highlighted a societal ill that transcends party lines, ethnicity and gender.
"All over this country and over the last several decades, the work of many individuals and organizations has created a sea of change in the way we, as a society, look upon the issue of domestic violence. Police, courts and the public used to considered instances of domestic violence as a private family matter. Not surprisingly, domestic violence was close to, if not the number one, underreported crime in this country," Green stated on the House floor.
According to Congressman Green, although laws such as the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act and the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 have made significant strides in the effort to support victims and prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence, more work needs to be done.
To underline the need to keep working against this problem, Congressman Green indicated that, according to a study from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime. Another report from the same organization indicates that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household.
He also referred to a 2010 survey conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence which concluded that in one day, 9,000 requests for help went unanswered due to a shortage of resources. "Many victims continue to suffer in silence and for many others who do not come forward, there are simply not enough resources available."
Congressman Green also cited other reports which estimate that as many as 15.5 million children are witnesses of situations of domestic violence every year. "Children who are exposed to this sort of violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution and commit sexual assault crimes," he explained.
In a critical analysis of the available data on the state of Texas, Congressman Al Green detailed that in 2010 142 women were killed by their intimate partner, according to a report from the Texas Council on Family Violence. Moreover, the report specified that, also last year, 37 women lost their lives due to domestic violence in Harris County, where Congressman Green's district is located.
Green concluded stating that domestic violence is intolerable because it creates a cycle of violence. He also advocated for the needs of victims regarding medical and legal services, as well as counseling and transitional housing.
The Congressman urged his fellow Members to renew their support for programs that assist survivors and their families, especially in the current times in which ---due to the economic downturn--- the gap between needs and resources becomes more prominent.
Besides Congressmen Green and Poe, Representatives Hank Johnson (GA-04), Lynn Woolsey (CA-06), Barbara Lee (CA-09), Jackie Speier (CA-12), Jim Costa (CA-20) and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) made remarks during the special order session. All of them condemned domestic violence and expressed support for Congressman Green's initiative to address the problem publicly.