By Allison Cossman, JWI intern
Twenty-four hours ago, I had never been to a Senate hearing. I had never heard of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). I had never known anyone who faced domestic abuse. I had been turning a blind, and naïve, eye to the abuse millions of women facing every year. Today, my eyes are open. I have been to a Senate hearing. I not only know about the Violence Against Women Act, but am devoted to fighting for its reauthorization.
How did this vast change occur so suddenly? My intern supervisor, Deborah Rosenbloom, took me and the other JWI interns, to the Violence Against Women Act hearing before the Senate Committee yesterday morning. Pushing my fears of sounding like a dork to the side, I will admit that I loved the hearing. I loved every minute of it. I was so inspired by the passion and optimism of the countless organizations that wrote the act, the intelligent lobbyists who spoke with such zest to the Senate committee, and the myriad of people who listened to the hearing with hope that VAWA will make a difference. It is truly an incredible feat to sit and watch the slow-but-steady process of government happen. To watch a cause that can improve the lives of millions of abused women and their children. To listen to voices that are fighting to make the world a better place, and to watch senators who have the power to do so.
Imagine watching Dr. Phil show gruesome pictures of domestic violent victims, hearing a woman remember a time when her soon-to-be-divorced husband falsely accused her of domestic abuse to avoid deportation, listening to a man retell personal crisis stories of suicidal victims of dating abuse.
These hard-hitting, personal, true stories and images made me realize that I can no longer turn my head to the horrors facing domestically abused women anymore. I need to open my eyes and support what I believe will help the world. I need to listen to Dr. Phil as he says, “domestic violence is not just a statistic, but a real problem happening to real people.” I need to get involved, because being inspired by these devoted individuals yesterday made me realize that fighting for what you believe in can actually change the world. #supportVAWA