If there was a graphic novel about the history of domestic violence legislation, Joe Biden would be its superhero. As a senator from Delaware on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he put together legislation and funding to support battered women's shelters and train law enforcement to handle domestic violence situations. In 1994, he saw his labors come to fruition in the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
According to the Associated Press, in the decade that followed passage of VAWA:
Domestic violence rates fell sharply between 1993 and 2004. The Bureau of Justice Statistics said that "intimate partner violence" rates fell by more than 50 percent, which some experts attributed to key elements of the 1994 law.
Last night, now-Vice President Joe Biden gathered with advocates of women's groups at the vice president's mansion to celebrate the 15th anniversary of VAWA:
Biden recalled how domestic violence was once regarded as a private matter. "It wasn't the business of the government. It's a family matter," he told about 100 guests. Advocates for women inspired a different attitude, he said....
Juley Fulcher of the organization Break the Cycle...a guest at the event, said there's more work to do to prevent dating violence and to provide services for teenagers who have experienced domestic and sexual violence. "There's definitely room for improvement," she said.
There will be plenty of opportunities to expand awareness and change minds as October ushers in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I'll be highlighting programs and websites that offer resources and information throughout the upcoming month.