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Mrs. SCHMIDT. Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012. And I would like to commend my good friend, Mrs. Adams from Florida, for spearheading this reauthorization. Mrs. Adams is a former law enforcement officer and knows the effects of domestic violence all too well and the chronic problems that we are faced with in this country.
We've all heard the statistics. The following are directly from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime;
The health-related costs of intimate partner violence equals at least $5.8 billion annually;
One in six women and one in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape. Men aren't immune from this either;
Thirty to 60 percent of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse the children in the household;
Domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes, for good reason.
These are difficult statistics, Madam Speaker, and they are certainly not easy to think about, but that's the reality we face in America. H.R. 4970 goes a long way to help the victims, their families, and law enforcement in working to lower those statistics by providing authorization for 5 years, enough time for agencies and departments to make plans and programs, as well as carry them through. Penalties for sexual assault and abuse are made stronger, improvements are made in emergency housing for victims, and great strides are made to end the backlog of testing rape kits.
I've been blessed to never have experienced this personally, but as a child, I witnessed it. My mother had a friend who ended up so violently attacked, so physically harmed, that she stayed at our house until she could finally get well enough, and my mother finally talked her into getting out of that environment. But that was the fourth or the fifth time that that lady, Rita, ended up staying in our house.
When I was a young adult having children, a friend of mine, again, had the same issue happen to her. What I realized was we didn't have anything in Clermont County to help them, but we had a homeless shelter that was very marginal. So I worked with the county prosecutor. You know I'm a runner. For 15 years, we put on a 5K to put money in the pot to keep that homeless shelter open so that women had a place to go.
Madam Speaker, we can't continue to go back on the backs of good volunteers in America. We, as a government, have to help these women, too. If we had those programs in place, Rita wouldn't have ended up in our house. She would have ended up in a place that could have psychologically and physically helped her. If we had had these programs in place, my friend Karen wouldn't have had to have been on the street, as well.
I urge my colleagues to face this reality head-on, and let's vote for this bill. It's time we do it for our women.
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