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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BROOKS of Indiana. I rise in support of VAWA.

Yelling. Name calling. Black eyes. Bruises. Belts. Broken bottles. Children scared and crying in the corners, crying for it to stop. The lies and coverups to friends and family. A family out of control.

And then the abuser gains the control and says, ``I'm sorry,'' ``I love you,'' ``I won't do it again,'' ``I'll change.'' So the victim stays again and again and again, year after year.

The cycle of violence goes on from generation to generation, just like Brittany from Tipton County, Indiana, abused by her drug-addicted mother and married a man also the victim of severe child abuse. After they married, the cycle of violence continues. Brittany's husband verbally and physically abused her while their children watched. She is in every one of our districts, whether you're in a poor family or a rich family, whether you're in the city, in the country, or on the farm. We as Members of Congress have the power and the control to change her life.

When Brittany finally took control and made the call, it was VAWA funds that made sure that the cops that responded recognized it. And I've done those ride-alongs, and they are the most dangerous calls cops can make. When VAWA funds are involved, they keep shelters and transitional housing open so those victims have a safe place to stay. When VAWA has funds, it trains sexual assault nurses who help those victims through the humiliating exams they have to endure that are so important so we have the evidence to put the abusers behind bars.

When VAWA funds are involved, we have advocates in prosecutors offices and in courtrooms who are trained to help them through the painful, long, difficult court process. And when VAWA funds are involved, we have counseling services needed for the victims and their families to heal. VAWA gives victims a fighting chance to gain control of their lives. If VAWA doesn't pass, in my district Alternatives, Inc. will have to lay off two of their five victim advocates, shut down one of their offices and won't be able to serve the 700 victims in rural counties that they served last year.

VAWA is a program that works. It's one of those Federal Government programs that works. This bill is not a perfect bill. No bill that Congress passes is perfect. But I will tell you the victims being attacked can't wait for perfect. The three women and the one man who die every day at the hands of their intimate partners cannot wait for perfect.

I'm a freshman, and I'm asked all the time, Isn't there anything that Congress can agree on and get behind? I think we need to show the American people we can give control back to the women, men, and children who are subjected to the horrors of violence at the hands of someone who supposedly loves them. This shouldn't be about politics and fighting and about political party control. In my short time in Congress, I've seen too often that we lose sight of the people that we are here to protect and to serve. And it is about control. That's what their lives are about.

I urge every Member to think of the victims. Take those statistics and replace them with the Brittanys in your district. Take control away from the abusers, provide it back to the victims with the control they need. Can't we be the voice that they don't have? We as Members of Congress have the ability to give control back to the victims, to give control to the cops, to give control to the sexual assault nurses, to give control to the victim advocates, to give some to the shelters and to the counselors. I'm asking this Congress to show the American people that we care. I do.

Please pass this bill.


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