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Public Statements

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COSTA. Thank you, Congressman Al Green and Judge Ted Poe, for organizing this Special Order to recognize the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

While I think I speak on behalf of all of us that we wish such a month were not necessary to commemorate, it is important that we educate not only our colleagues but Americans on the tremendous challenges and difficulties facing Americans who are dealing every day with domestic violence. Today, all of us stand up for the victims of those heinous crimes, victims who too often suffer under the shadows.

In Fresno just last week, I visited Central California Legal Services to announce a $500,000 grant that is to focus on victims of domestic violence in the San Joaquin Valley. What I saw and what I heard is, sadly, a reminder of what continues to occur throughout the country as I've worked with these folks for many years. There is an added burden today with the tough economic times that we're living in that has strained families because unemployment is higher than it should be. Unstable economic conditions oftentimes mean higher stress and more incidences of domestic violence.

At the same time, we are reducing the kind of support at the Federal and State levels to provide for organizations that help these victims of crime. While more women and men and children suffer from domestic violence, less support remains to help them, so Congressman Judge Ted Poe and I founded the Victims' Rights Caucus in 2006 to be a bipartisan voice for victims' rights in Congress.

One of the major initiatives that the caucus works on is the protection of the Violence Against Women Act, otherwise known as the V-A-W-A, VAWA. It was established in 1994 to grant funds for programs to State and local and Indian tribal governments.

Today this fund seeks to encourage the collaboration among law enforcement, judicial personnel, and public-private service providers for the victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Another goal of this fund is to increase public awareness of the domestic violence and address the needs of these folks who are victims of sexual and domestic violence that occurs within our communities.

This fund has been a source of much resource, because it's been able to provide support for more victims to report domestic violence to the police, often one of the most difficult cases that our local law enforcement agencies will tell you that they deal with on a daily basis.

They also provide monies for the rate of nonfatal domestic violence, and this has helped decrease violence in many areas across the country. It also has reduced the amount of acts of crime of killing an intimate partner. Last year the decrease was 24 percent. Oftentimes, sadly, these domestic violence cases result in death.

Although much progress has been made, obviously much more needs to be done. Crime victims, it's been said before, but I'll say it again, are our mothers. They're our fathers. They're our sisters. They're our brothers. They're our friends and they are our neighbors. They are people that we all know of. They deserve our support. They deserve the vital services to help them cope during these horrific time periods within their lives.

As National Domestic Violence Month continues, let us all do everything we can to encourage folks to attend events, to recognize and honor those who are at the vanguard of trying to protect those who are victims of violence: those good people who serve them, who are out working in this area, like the Central California Legal Services foundation; those who are in law enforcement; those who are in our justice system; those who are in every way working in our communities to help those victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Only through education and awareness will our communities be able to ultimately put an end to this domestic scourge and respond more effectively to those victims.

I want to thank Congressman Green again for his efforts, and Congressman Poe and my other colleagues who have spoken so well today. Today's Special Order, let it be a call for all of us to action, to continue advancing the rights of victims across the Nation and to protect the Violence Against Women Act.


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