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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 30, 1998




Domestic violence is a leading cause of injury to American women, and teenage girls between the ages of 16 and 19 experience one of the highest rates of such violence. A woman is battered every 15 seconds in the United States, and 30 percent of female murder victims are killed by current or former partners. Equally disturbing is the impact of domestic violence on children. Witnessing such violence has a devastating emotional effect on children, and between 50 and 70 percent of men who abuse their female partners abuse their children as well. From inner cities to rural communities, domestic violence affects individuals of every age, culture, class, gender, race, and religion.

Combatting the violence that threatens many of our Nation's families is among my highest priorities as President. Through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), included in the historic Crime Bill I signed into law, we have more than tripled funding for programs that combat domestic violence and sexual abuse -- investing over half a billion dollars since 1994. The Violence Against Women Office at the Department of Justice, which coordinates the Federal Government's implementation of the Act, is leading a comprehensive national effort to combine tough Federal laws with assistance to State and local programs designed to fight domestic violence and aid its victims. With VAWA grants, communities across our country have been able to hire more prosecutors and improve domestic violence training among police officers, prosecutors, and health and social service professionals.

My Administration has also worked to enact other important legislation that sends the clear message that family violence is a serious crime. The Interstate Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act of 1996 stiffens the penalties against perpetrators who pursue women across State lines to stalk, threaten, or abuse them; and an extension of the Brady Law prohibits anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense from owning a firearm. Since 1996, the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) we established has provided immediate crisis intervention, counseling, and referrals for those in need, responding to as many as 10,000 calls each month.

In observing the month of October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we also recognize the dedicated efforts of professionals and volunteers who take up this cause every day, offering protection, guidance, encouragement, and compassion to the survivors of family violence. We reaffirm our pledge to strengthen our collective national response to crimes of domestic violence. Most important, we strengthen our commitment to raise public awareness of the frequency of domestic violence, recognize the signs of such violence, and intervene before it escalates. If we are ever to erase the pain of these heinous crimes, we must help victims become survivors and, once and for all, end the scourge of violence in America's homes.

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 1998 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 thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.


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