Last Friday, Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and I met with 13 groups working to combat domestic and sexual violence at the national, state and local level. These groups represent a broad and diverse approach to ending violence against women in this country. The meeting was a fantastic opportunity to hear from the front lines about the needs of communities and to talk about the Obama Administration’s new initiatives. The groups in attendance drew our attention to all the ways domestic violence and sexual assault touch women’s lives.
Kim Teehee, Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs, led a discussion on implementing the historic Tribal Law and Order Act, which brings new resources to Indian Country to address the shockingly high rates of domestic and sexual violence against Native American women. The Tribal Law and Order Act helps Tribes hold perpetrators accountable and reduce crime.
We discussed the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and its protections for victims of domestic violence. Not only does the landmark health care reform bill prohibit discrimination against victims, it also intervenes early to break the cycle of violence by providing help to pregnant women and new mothers who are being abused. There’s still more we can do to meet the physical and mental needs of victims and improve the capacity of the public health system to respond to violence.
The groups told us about other critical issues, such as the profound impact violence has on children. Without intervention, children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems and sometimes end up in the juvenile justice system. We also talked about the need for solutions that respect religion, culture and family. Rape and abuse touch the lives of women, men, and children in every corner of our nation and we need responses that make sense for every unique community. We agree, which is why the Obama Administration recently announced unprecedented coordination and cooperation across the entire government to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse.
We always appreciate the privilege of meeting with people who are working every day to help end domestic violence and sexual assault. But you don’t have to come all the way to Washington, DC to give us your input. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you think.
Unfortunately we are unable to provide direct assistance to individuals – please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) if you need help or information.
Lynn Rosenthal is the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women