I'm honored to be here today with the women senators to talk about the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. A law that has a history of passing this chamber with broad bipartisan support.
I would note that there are many authors of this bill. I think up to something like 58 authors currently and the women that are speaking today include myself and Senator Feinstein, Senator Hagan, Senator Mikulski, Senator Murray, Senator Boxer, also Senator Collins and Snowe and Senator McCaskill, Stabenow and Gillibrand. The bill is led by Senator Leahy and Senator Crapo.
We're here to pledge our support for this bill and ask our colleagues to move forward for this bill. The Violence Against Women Act was a landmark bill when it first became law in 1984. Back then it sent a strong message to the country saying that sexual assault and domestic violence are serious offenses that will not be tolerated. We heard that message loud and clear in my state, and I'm proud to say that our state has always had a strong tradition of standing up against these crimes.
In fact, no conversation in our state about domestic abuse would be complete without mentioning former Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife Sheila, who we miss dearly. The Wellstones put so much time and energy into bringing these issues out of the shadows into taking a subject that many people considered at the time a family matter and saying, you know, what? Domestic violence isn't just something we can sweep under a rug. It's a crime, it hurts families, it hurts children, and we're going to do something about it.
And while I led the prosecutor's office in Hennepin County, Minnesota for eight years, we put a lot of focus on the victims' needs and the children's needs in domestic violence cases. Because it doesn't take a bruise or broken bone for a child to be a victim of domestic violence. Kids who witness domestic violence are victims, too.
We had a poster up on the wall in our office, Madam President, a poster of a woman with a band-aid on her nose holding a baby, it said beat your wife, your kid goes to jail. You know why? The statistics show kids who grow up in violent homes are 76 times more likely to commit acts of domestic violence themselves.
It's a sobering number, and over all, the statistics for these kinds of crimes are staggering. More than one in three women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. And every year, close to 17,000 people lose their lives to domestic violence. So once again, this is not just a family matter. This is a matter of life and death, and not just for the victims but oftentimes for the law enforcement officers who are all too often caught in the line of fire. I've seen this in my own state.
In fact, I saw it just a few months ago whenIi attended the funeral of Sean Schneider, a young police officer in Lake City, Minnesota. He died after responding to a domestic violence call. A 17-year-old girl was being abused by her boyfriend. When Officer Schneider arrived at the scene he was shot in the head. He literally gave his life to save another. I attended that funeral, Madam President, and I still remember those three little children, the two boys and the little girl with the blue dress with stars on it, going down the aisle of the church. And he you see -- when you see that, you realize the victims of domestic violence not aren't just the immediate victims, it is an entire family, it is an entire community.
So we know all too well just how devastating domestic violence can be to victims and entire communities. Six years ago we passed a reauthorization bill out of the Judiciary Committee, and the bill has the support of 58 senators, including six Republicans. I'm glad that this bill has continued to attract bipartisan support. I wish it was unanimous. Just seven years ago, in fact, the reauthorization bill passed the house by a vote of 415-4 and it passed the senate by unanimous consent with 18 republican cosponsors.
I know that this year some of my Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee are not supportive of this bill, but it is my hope that while they may disagree with the bill, they will not stop this bipartisan bill from advancing. Combating domestic violence and sexual assault is an issue that we should all be able to agree on.
Many of the provisions in the reauthorization bill made important changes to the current law. The bill consolidates duplicative programs and streamlines others. It provides flexibility by adding more purpose areas to the list of allowable uses. It has training for people providing legal assistance to victims and takes steps to address the high rates in Native American communities.
The bill also fills some gaps in the system and I'm pleased to say it includes the legislation that I introduced with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to address high tech stalking where stalkers use the internet, video surveillance and bugging to stalk their victims. The bill will give law enforcement better tools for cracking down on stalkers. Just as with physical stalk, high-tech stalking may foreshadow more serious behavior down the road. We need our tools for our law enforcement to be as sophisticated as those who are breaking the law.
Now, I can tell you I want to end with this, I know Senator Feinstein is coming -- I know Senator Feinstein is coming soon and a number of women who will be speaking today but I want to remind everybody in this chamber that domestic violence takes its toll.
One of the most memorable cases I had in our office when our office prosecuted a case of a woman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. She was a Russian immigrant, her husband was a Russian immigrant, didn't have many friends in the communities. She was most likely a domestic violence victim for many, many years. One day this man killed his wife. He then took her body parts down to Missouri. He left some of the body parts there and the entire time he had their 4-year-old daughter in the car with him. He then drove back to Minnesota, confessed to the crime. And when they had the funeral, there was only me, our domestic violence advocate, and the grandparents that had come from Ruussia and this woman's identical twin sister. What had happened at the airport when they arrived was that this little 4-year-old girl who had never seen her aunt, who had never seen her mother's identical twin sister, ran down that hallway when she saw her aunt the first time and hugged her and said “Mommy, mommy, mommy,” because she thought that her mom was back.
It reminds us all that domestic violence isn't just about one victim. It's about children, it's about family, and it's about a community. And we all know that this bill has always enjoyed broad bipartisan support. The women of the Senate know it, there are already three Republican women on this bill and many others, I hope to come. We believe in this bill, we ask our colleagues to support this bill. I see that my colleague, Senator Feinstein, is here, and i know that as a member of the judiciary committee she and I are the only two women members of the Judiciary Committee. She that has taken a lead on this issue for many, many years. Thank you very much, Madam President. I yield the floor.