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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release October 14, 1999


For too many American families, domestic violence rips apart the fabric of their lives. It is a tragedy they must confront every day. As we recognize October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we must do all we can to focus on stopping that tragedy. We recognize the dedicated efforts of professionals and volunteers every day in offering protection, guidance, encouragement and compassion to the survivors of family violence, and we reach out to those survivors with hope and help.

Combating domestic violence is among this Administration's highest priorities, and I applaud the efforts being led by the Family Violence Prevention Fund to promote awareness about the importance of routine screening so that health care providers can spot domestic violence. We need more awareness of domestic violence so its victims are recognized.

Although domestic violence directly or indirectly brings millions of women to the health care system every year, health care providers too often treat its victims without inquiring about the abuse. The consequences of this inaction can be devastating for the women living with this violence, for their children, and for their families. Routine screening, with its focus on early identification and its capacity to reach patients, whether or not symptoms are immediately apparent, is a primary starting point to improve efforts to identify domestic violence and take steps to stop it.

For all the women and children who are the victims of domestic violence, for all the families destroyed by its terrible reality, I want to encourage health associations, health care providers, and public leaders across our nation to do more. We must build a more comprehensive response to domestic violence throughout our health care system by supporting and encouraging routine screening of domestic violence. And 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 too many of our families.