October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It's the perfect time to shed light on the issue of domestic violence so that we can work together towards ensuring the health and safety of all Americans. Domestic violence is an issue that affects all communities regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status, or geographic location. Educating people about personal safety and building healthy relationships is a year-round project, but October should serve as a reminder that we need to keep working.
As you may know, Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved following the First Day of Unity in October 1981, which was put on by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The original goal of Unity Day was to provide a sense of solidarity among the battered women advocates in the country who were working to end domestic violence. By 1987, the message of the NCADV had spread, and the first Domestic Violence Awareness month was acknowledged. Following the NCADV's progress, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month commemorative legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1989. Such legislation has passed every year since.
In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed. The legislation authorized funding for shelters, hotlines, and other resources for abused women. Furthermore, VAWA offered law enforcement better tools to prosecute abusers. The legislation has been incredibly effective: it has resulted in a 60 per cent reduction of annual incidents of domestic violence since its passage. Since I was first elected to Congress, I have been a strong supporter of VAWA. As a consistent cosponsor of VAWA, I have worked hard along with my Congressional colleagues to see this legislation reauthorized year after year.
Earlier this month, Wisconsin officially acknowledged October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Steps like these are critical to take in order to build awareness and work towards ending the violence. As a former prosecutor, I know we must be always vigilant in preventing domestic violence, ensuring the protection of victims of domestic violence, and working towards the health and safety of all Americans.