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September 29, 2023

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith RE: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

CHICAGO, Sept. 29, 2023 — October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month (#DVAM), which shines a light on the continuing toll that domestic violence takes on too many Americans and reaffirms our commitment to stand with survivors and continue to advocate for remedies to address this scourge on the lives of millions across the country. This year’s theme, #Every1KnowsSome1, highlights how domestic violence infiltrates every community and reminds us that each of us likely knows someone who has been affected.

Intimate partner violence impacts nearly 20 people per minute in the United States, which amounts to more than 10 million individuals annually. Women of color and Indigenous women endure this violence at rates 30% to 50% higher than their white counterparts. Precise figures reveal 43.7% of non-Hispanic Black women, 46% of American Indian or Alaska Native women and 53.8% of multiracial non-Hispanic women have experienced forms of intimate violence — which includes physical violence, psychological aggression, rape and stalking — in their lifetimes. These disturbing statistics, which are considered to be vastly underreported, highlight the urgent need for substantial interventions and reforms to tackle these deeply rooted issues and to lend support to the victims.

Since its formation six months after the 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence has been a national leader, relentlessly working to enhance access to justice for survivors, especially in marginalized or vulnerable communities, and to advocate for legal remedies and societal change. It has played a pivotal role in national policy advocacy and has provided indispensable education on the nuances and sensitivity of the law and representing survivors, particularly in communities historically excluded from protection.

But there is always more to be done. As we reflect on the staggering prevalence of intimate partner violence, the ABA steadfastly reinforces its commitment to support survivors and effect change, calling on everyone to recognize the severity of this pervasive issue, work toward its eradication and reaffirm the dignity and rights of all those affected.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.