Obama: No victim of home abuse should live in fear

October 27, 2010 4:44:59 PM PDT
Speaking as a president, husband and father, Barack Obama said Wednesday that no victim of domestic violence should ever feel like they don't have a way out of an abusive situation.

"The bottom line is this: Nobody in America should live in fear because they are unsafe in their own home," Obama said during a White House event marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The president announced a series of administration-wide initiatives aimed at providing victims the financial and legal support to leave abusive situations. The initiatives include programs to connect victims with lawyers, help states conduct home visits with at-risk families and provide resources to children in abusive homes.

Obama's remarks come as Democrats strain to show female voters that they're the party on their side in the run-up to Tuesday's midterm elections. Women long have leaned toward Democrats, but the latest Associated Press-GfK poll shows that likely female voters are split fairly evenly between the two parties: 49 percent favoring Democrats, 45 percent Republicans. That's a significant drop from the last midterm election in 2006 when Democrats had a double-digit advantage.

The White House says one in every four women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime, and more than 20 million women in the U.S. have been raped. More than 15 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year.

The president said that while much progress has been made in combatting domestic violence, those numbers remain unacceptably high.

"I say that not only as a president, but as a son, as a husband, as the father of two daughters," Obama said.

Obama was joined at Wednesday's event by Vice President Joe Biden, who championed the 1994 Violence Against Women Act; actress Mariska Hargitay and longtime Major League Baseball manager Joe Torre, who shared a deeply personal story of his struggles to overcome his own family's history of abuse.

"These are scars that I took from childhood into my adult life," Torre said.

Other initiatives announced Wednesday include: - A Pregnancy Assistance Fund in five states to help pregnant women who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. The program is funded by the health care law Obama championed. - A Justice Department project to encourage more free legal services for victims. - New rules providing guidance to housing authorities and landlords to evict perpetrators of abuse and make sure victims don't lose their housing due to crimes committed against them.


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