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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 1, 1997




In observing the month of October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the American people reaffirm our commitment to prevent and eliminate violence against women. Domestic violence is not simply a private family matter -- it is a matter affecting the entire community.

Too many of America's homes have become places where women, children, and seniors suffer physical abuse and emotional trauma. Domestic violence is a leading cause of injury to women in our country, and it occurs among all racial, ethnic, religious, and economic groups. It is a particularly devastating form of abuse because it wears a familiar face: the face of a spouse, parent, or partner. This violence too often extends beyond the home and into the workplace.

My Administration is committed to ending this violence and to protecting women in all aspects of their lives, whether in the home, in the community, or in the workplace. In 1994, I fought for passage of the Violence Against Women Act, which combined tough new penalties for offenders with funding for much-needed shelters, counseling services, public education, and research to help the victims of violence. The Federal penalties and prevention efforts included in this legislation have improved our ability to deter crimes of domestic violence.

Early in my Administration, as outlined in the landmark Crime Bill, I established the Office of Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice to lead our comprehensive national effort to combine tough Federal laws with assistance to States and localities to fight domestic violence and other crimes against women. In February 1996, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the 24-hour-a-day, toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-797-SAFE, so that those in trouble can find out how to get emergency help, find shelter, or report abuse. To date, the hotline has received more than 118,000 calls from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We also initiated an Advisory Council on Violence Against Women to bring together experts in the field, including representatives from law enforcement, business, health and human services, and advocates, to focus national attention on successful, multifaceted solutions to combating violence and sexual assault.

We cannot simply rest on past efforts. My Administration is continuing its work to prevent domestic violence and to care for survivors in their communities and workplaces. We are committed to strengthening the health care system's ability to screen, treat, prevent, and eliminate family violence by supporting training of health care providers and projects to assist those in the substance abuse field to address domestic violence. We are working to improve collaboration between human services providers, advocates, and the criminal justice community to enhance responses to domestic violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring projects and programs to coordinate community responses to domestic violence, to focus on youth and children who witness violence, and to link child protection services with community providers who work with abused women and their children.

Finally, as a further enhancement of my 1995 directive to all Federal departments and agencies to conduct employee awareness campaigns on domestic violence, the Office of Personnel Management is producing a guide to help agency representatives develop programs to prevent and respond to all types of workplace violence against Federal employees, including domestic violence. This guide, drafted by experts in the areas of mental health, investigations, law enforcement, threat assessment, and employee relations, will serve as a useful tool in providing step-by-step information to identify, prevent, and respond to violence so that we can protect those in the Federal work force.

I encourage the private sector to expand its role in preventing and eliminating domestic violence. We must also strengthen coordinated efforts between the public and private sectors to combat domestic violence in the home, the community, and the workplace. These efforts must ensure that no survivor of domestic violence lives in isolation and that the families of victims also have our support. No child should have to live in an abusive home. No woman should live in fear in her home, on the streets, or on the job. Only through a national commitment to this effort can we stop domestic violence and ensure that its survivors are safe.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 1997 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I call upon government officials, law enforcement agencies, health professionals, educators, community leaders, and the American people to join together to end the domestic violence that threatens so many of our people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.


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