Victims' Rights Caucus


  • Mr. Speaker, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) changed the way we view domestic violence in the United States.
  • On the 20th anniversary of VAWA, we celebrate the progress we have made, but we also take this time to recognize how much further we have to go in ending this horrific crime.
  • 20 years ago domestic violence was viewed as a ``family issue.''
  • Fortunately, in 2014, we educate men and women on this issue and have many more resources available for victims and tougher punishments for abusers.
  • As a society, we try to make victims feel comfortable coming forward so they can be protected and move forward with their lives, away from their abuser.
  • Sadly, though, many individuals and organizations still do not take domestic violence seriously enough.
  • The NFL had to be shamed into suspending Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games for abusing his fiancée after a video surfaced of him dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator by her hair.
  • And shamed even further for the Baltimore Ravens to finally terminate his contract and for the NFL to suspend him indefinitely.
  • That is, only after, the full, more graphic video was released making it beyond clear what happened inside of that elevator.
  • Ray Rice knocked his fiancée out cold.
  • Like it or not, professional athletes are role models. Is this the type of person we want our children looking up to?
  • This summer, the NFL did not care about intimate partner violence as a serious crime. They cared about saving face.
  • Not saving the faces and bodies and souls of women in this country, but protecting their own image and bottom line.
  • In the spirit of VAWA, we must continue to speak out against abusers and those that do not take criminal conduct seriously, and we must continue to stand up for victims.
  • Victims of abuse must come forward for their own safety and that of their children.
  • What kind of message are we sending these victims when we put men who abuse their partners on a pedestal? When we treat celebrities or professional athletes who commit the same crime differently because of their status?
  • I am proud of how much VAWA changed the landscape for victims in our country over the past 20 years, but this latest incident demonstrates there is more work to be done.
  • And that's just the way it is.