Help End Domestic Violence by Voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden!
It was truly an honor for me to nominate Senator Biden as our country’s next Vice-President at the Democratic National Convention in August, but more importantly I was honored to represent the victims of Domestic Violence – to give a voice to their cries and to develop a relationship with a team of leaders who not only hear us, but welcome us and our ideas for change in the White House!
Each year we set aside the month of October to reflect on Domestic Violence. During this month we bring into light the dark secret that plagues many of our communities: violence against women. Shockingly, one million women each year are victims of domestic abuse and 40-50% of all female murders are related to domestic violence. Approximately 300,000 pregnant women in this country are victims of domestic violence -- making domestic abuse more common to them than pre-gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia. Children who witness domestic violence are often abused as well and are more likely to exhibit depression, anxiety and violence towards peers. These children often grow up to continue the violent cycle that they have observed.
Domestic violence also has devastating impacts on our economy. The cost to treat victims of domestic abuse and apprehend and prosecute predators alone exceeds $1 billion annually. Violence against women also affects the labor market. Studies have found that up to 85% of domestic violence victims have missed work due to abuse, while as many as 50% of domestic violence victims have lost a job due to the impact of that abuse. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, domestic violence also costs employers between $3-$5 billion annually in the form of increased health care costs, absenteeism, reduced productivity and increased security costs.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden know these facts and hear our cries for real help and change. Domestic Violence isn’t a topic that they are willing to push to the side just because it’s not popular. Senator Obama introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to provide $25 million a year to domestic violence prevention and victim support efforts. Senator Biden stood for women at a time that it was not popular to say enough is enough when he authored and passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act in 1994. In an appalling slap to victims of domestic violence everywhere, Senator McCain voted against this life saving bill. He even voted against funding that would help children who witnessed domestic abuse get the counseling they need. As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama also sponsored and passed a landmark law that provides economic protections to victims of domestic violence so they don’t lose their jobs or face financial penalties due to this abuse.
Senators Obama and Biden have a deep commitment to this issue and will continue to make domestic violence prevention a priority in their administration and support those of us at the grassroots level working to eradicate domestic abuse from our society.
As a family member of a victim of domestic violence, I know firsthand the devastating effects this abuse can have. My sister Witney and I never experienced abuse and lived an uncomplicated life free of any violence. Our family believed in service, a quality education and giving back to communities in need. Witney and I vowed that we would somehow make a difference in the violent stricken community of Baltimore City. Witney took the path of earning her medical degree at Hahnemann University and I decided to become an educator. Upon returning to Baltimore to practice Psychiatry at the University of Maryland, Witney became involved in a relationship that would play out much like a television mini-series. A young, beautiful and gifted woman, Witney volunteered to help AIDS patients, offered her services to the Mayor of Baltimore as a task force member of the Substance Abuse Program and counseled many for free. She was stalked and soon after murdered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. She was only 34 years old.
Eventually her murderer was captured and prosecuted. The Baltimore community had lost a friend and a true gift. Hundreds of mourners braved a winter snow storm to attend her funeral. They vowed to educate the public about Domestic Violence and committed to keep Witney’s spirit alive and bright as a Beacon of Hope to all. I continue to fulfill the vow we once made – to make a difference. In the face of tragedy and sorrow, I have created a non-profit organization called Witney's Lights. This organization seeks to end domestic violence by offering informative workshops, advocacy services and a youth leadership institute.
YOU can help end domestic violence! Never before have we seen an election mean the difference between life and death. This election year, honor a victim of domestic violence by making your voice heard. Vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, two leaders who have our best interest at heart. I will proudly be first in line on Election Day in honor of my sister, Witney. You see, this election is personal to me. Never have I encountered two candidates who cared as much about my personal story of Domestic Violence much less empower me to help bring the change we all need!
Quincy Lucas is Founder and President of Witney's Lights.