1 is 2 Many Blog

  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Survivors Can’t Afford to Wait

    Domestic Violence Awareness Month has ended, but our work to end abuse continues. Today, in this country, women and children continue to suffer from unspeakable violence because they are afraid to seek help without legal status. When immigrant survivors of abuse without legal status are, according to one study, half as likely to call the police to seek the help they need, we must act.

    Since it was first signed into law in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA has recognized the need for special protections for immigrant survivors of abuse, including self-petitions and categories of visas for victims of violent crimes and human trafficking. But while VAWA includes key provisions to help immigrant survivors, it is not enough.

    Now, Congress has the opportunity to take an important step towards protecting victims, and supporting law enforcement to create safer communities for all Americans. Commonsense immigration reform would significantly benefit immigrant women all over the country. The Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill by a wide, bipartisan majority. And Democratic leaders have introduced a bill in the House that’s similar to the bipartisan Senate bill.  So it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether to move forward with immigration reform. Unlike many other issues in Washington, immigration reform is one that both parties can agree on. Congress must finish the job on commonsense immigration reform

  • Vice President Biden Visits the National Domestic Violence Hotline

    Yesterday, Vice President Biden visited the National Domestic Violence Hotline to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

    Vice President Biden created the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 (VAWA) and has long championed the cause of ending domestic violence. The Vice President was accompanied by actress Mariska Hargitay, a key advocate working against abuse.  Together Vice President Biden and Mariska toured the Hotline, met with frontline advocates, and observed these life-saving services in action.

    Vice President Joe Biden and Mariska Hargitay watch as an advocate demonstrates the new web chat feature, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline

    Vice President Joe Biden and Mariska Hargitay watch as an advocate demonstrates the new web chat feature, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, in Austin, Texas, Oct. 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    The Hotline -- which provides around the clock services in 170 languages -- answered its 3 millionth call this summer. Today, the Hotline receives an average of 22,000 calls a month, and serves as a critical lifeline for women and men experiencing violence. The Hotline can connect callers directly to domestic violence shelters, help victims find legal services, and provide the comfort and support needed in a time of crisis. The Vice President announced the Hotline’s expansion to new digital services that will allow victims and survivors to reach out for help through online chatting. This new service helps survivors reach out for help in the way they feel the most comfortable.  One chatter said: “I feel so much better now…I wish everyone knew about you.” We hope that because of the Vice President’s visit, more women will reach out for help online. Visit www.thehotline.org for more information.

    Vice President Biden also announced a grant of $500,000 from the Department of Justice for the National Dating Abuse Helpline, also operated by the Hotline. The Helpline is geared towards teens and young adults, and is available 24/7 by text, chat, and phone.  Two years ago, the Vice President kicked off the Helpline’s text messaging services, and last year, the Helpline was contacted by nearly 40,000 teens and young adults seeking information and support. During his visit, the Vice President met with the peer advocates working on the Helpline, and thanked them for their incredible work.

  • Ending Violence Against Women: 19 Years of Progress

    Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). As the original author and champion of VAWA, Vice President Biden brought national attention to what had too-long been a hidden problem. Then-Senator Biden held the first hearing on violence against women in the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1990 and introduced the first version of the Act that same year. After five years of hearings exposing the extent of rape, battering and stalking, the Act finally passed Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton on September 13, 1994.

    The initial VAWA legislation focused on changing law enforcement practices, improving the criminal justice system, and increasing access to shelters and services for victims. VAWA strengthened the federal criminal code, creating interstate crimes of domestic violence and doubling penalties for repeat sex offenders. And, VAWA sparked the passage of hundreds of laws at the state level to protect victims and hold offenders accountable. Since 1994, VAWA has sent billions of dollars to states and local communities to develop a coordinated response to domestic violence, dating violence sexual assault, and stalking.  

  • Addressing the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities

    Today we are proud to announce the release of the report by the President’s Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities. We have had the honor of serving as co-chairs of the interagency Federal Working Group since March 2012, when President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to address two overlapping challenges to the health and wellbeing of communities across the United States: the effects of HIV/AIDS, and the alarming rate at which women and girls experience violence.  

    More than 1 in 3 women in the United States has experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in her lifetime; of these women, 69% report experiencing intimate partner violence at age 25 or younger, and 22% experience IPV for the first time as girls between the ages of 11 and 17 years.  Furthermore, approximately 280,000 women in the United States were living with HIV in 2009, with an estimated 15% unaware of their status.  Women account for 20% of new HIV infections in the United States, with over three-quarters of these new infections occurring among black and Latina women.

    By themselves, these statistics represent a compelling call to action, but the particular prevalence of intimate partner violence among women living with HIV further reinforces the need to address the intersection of HIV/AIDS and violence against women and girls: 56% of women living with HIV, compared to the national prevalence of 36%, have experienced violence by an intimate partner.

    Given these data, the Working Group established by the Presidential Memorandum was tasked with developing actions for evidence-based, culturally relevant steps for Federal agencies to address the barriers to care and prevention for both HIV and violence. The culminating report charts a path forward to improve collaboration among agencies by leveraging federal resources in support of the health and wellbeing of women and girls, particularly those living with or at high-risk for HIV/AIDS and violence. The report’s action steps include: a focus on research and data collection to evaluate existing programs; ideas to develop new strategies for intervention; and expanded efforts to empower women and girls, as well as engage men and boys, in the prevention of violence and HIV risk.

  • Engaging Men to Say NO MORE to Violence Against Women and Girls

    This week, men across the country united to say NO MORE to violence against women and girls by engaging in online trainings, workshops, and community dialogues. These activities were led by NO MORE , an alliance of service providers, awareness organizations and supporters in the private sector that have come together to advance the movement to end domestic violence and sexual assault. The focus of NO MORE Week has been on the role of men as fathers and mentors in teaching our children about safe and healthy relationships built on equality, respect and trust. This includes having honest conversations about abuse and sexual assault. As President Obama has made clear, sexual assault is shameful and disgraceful and a crime—in the armed forces and everywhere. 

    We applaud the men who are taking a stand against abuse. This includes fathers, brothers, cousins, and friends who are supporting the women and girls in their lives and teaching young men about healthy relationships. Fathers can find specific resources on talking to sons about the importance of treating women with respect from the coalition of organizations that comprise NO MORE.

    Since his first day in office, President Obama has made combatting violence against women and girls a priority through multiple fronts.  The establishment of the first-ever White House Council on Women and Girls, and the appointment of the first White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, are just two examples. Here in the Office of the Vice President, we are continuing to champion Vice President Biden’s hard work to prevent and respond to domestic violence since he authored the first Violence Against Women Act in 1994.  Through the 1is2Many campaign, we are combatting dating violence, abuse, and sexual assault by raising awareness and providing practical tools, like the Circle of 6 iPhone app. But we know that we cannot do this work alone.  We know that so much of this hard work is being done by organizations of advocates like NO MORE, through its efforts to break through the silence surrounding these problems and to get parents, especially men, to talk about the issue.

  • Recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    Every April, we recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year, with rape in the headlines nearly every day, we speak out with even greater urgency to honor survivors and prevent sexual violence.

    We know the devastating statistics: 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetimes. That’s 18 million women in this country who have been raped, and more than 1 million rapes that occur every year. The vast majority of these assaults occur when the victims are under the age of 25, and those under the age of 18 are at the greatest risk. These numbers are real, but they don’t tell the whole story. They don’t tell of the broken trust when the attacker is a friend, a trusted colleague, or a family member.  They don’t tell of the suicidal feelings, the depression, or of the PTSD. And, they don’t tell of the courage survivors demonstrate when they work every day to put their lives back together.

    Across the federal government, we are working to support survivors and to prevent sexual violence. Last year, the Department of Justice modernized the definition of rape used to collect our nation’s crime statistics. This year, the Department of Justice is working with law enforcement agencies to implement this change and develop new guidelines for investigating sexual assault cases. The Office on Violence Against Women is funding training that will help communities address their backlogs of rape kits and improve prosecution of sexual assault crimes. The Office of Victims of Crime is supporting the development of a telemedicine center that will help bring sexual assault forensic exams to victims in rural and isolated communities.