“…this was the dirty little secret that everybody kept; nobody talked about it.” (Vice President Joe Biden)
President Obama and Vice President Biden speak about the unprecedented efforts across the Federal Government to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence in an event yesterday marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
President Obama: “As you all know, domestic violence was for far too long seen as a lesser offense…., it was frequently treated like a private matter. Victims were often just sent home from the hospital without intervention; children were left to suffer in silence. And as a consequence, abuse could go on for years. In many cases, this violence would only end with the death of a woman or a child.
And we’ve come an incredibly long way since that time. We have changed laws. We’ve made progress in changing the way people think about domestic abuse…., we’ve reduced the incidence of domestic violence. And we’ve done so in no small part because of the advocacy of your organizations and the willingness of victims to tell their own stories, even when it’s difficult….
We’re also doing more to help the victims of domestic violence access legal services and protections. So today, the Justice Department is releasing new tools and best practice to judges, to advocates, to law enforcement to help ensure that protective orders are issued and enforced. And the Vice President and the Justice Department are launching a new effort to help victims of domestic abuse find lawyers to represent them pro bono.”
In earlier remarks, Vice President Joe Biden referred to domestic violence as an epidemic, and “the dirty little secret that everybody kept.” He alluded to the fact that the National Domestic Violence Hotline answers an estimated 22, 000 calls per month and asked the question: how many thousands more never got the chance?
Biden admitted that the hardest part is helping victims is to keep them safe, once they are out of the violent relationship.
“…we need to provide legal protection for victims at the time they need it most, the most dramatic violence, the most dramatic violent murders occur shortly after the victim tries to leave. That’s the most dangerous moment….and we need to pick up on the warning signs, much better than we have thus far. There were moments when the system could have worked better, when lives could have been saved.”
The Vice President continued, noting that the violence almost always escalates since it’s like “a drug addiction” that gets worse and worse. Recognizing the signs of violence is important, and all the institutions have to continue to co-ordinate to keep the victims safe.
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