“Mr. And Mrs. Smith” star and human rights activist Angelina Jolie got emotional while imploring members of Congress to pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act on Wednesday.
“Standing here at the center of our nation’s power, I can think only of everyone who has been made to feel powerless by their abusers by a system that failed to protect them,” she said in her more than five minute address.
Jolie named off victims of violence, including the women and children that suffer abuses by the people who are closest to them and often feel powerless to get out of their situations.
“The reason that many people struggle to leave abusive situations is that they’ve been made to feel worthless,” she added. “When there is silence from a Congress too busy to renew the Violence Against Women Act for a decade, it reinforces that sense of worthlessness.”
She called the law “one of the most important votes” Senators would cast this year. “The ugly truth is that violence in homes is normalized in our country,” Jolie said.
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“There are people in this room who have suffered abuse and been denied justice that have worked for years to ensure that this VAWA reauthorization achieves certain basic protections that no survivors should have to ask for,” she continued.
She cited Kayden’s law, which restricts abusers from being allowed to be with their children unsupervised, funding for non-racially biased evidence collection, and jurisdiction to prosecute non-Native American perpetrators of child abuse and sex crimes on tribal land.
Jolie was overcome with emotion when she spoke about “the children who are terrified and suffering at this moment and the many people for whom this legislation comes too late.”
A bipartisan group of Senators announced that they reached a deal to renew the act, which expired in 2018, later in the day after dropping a provision called the “boyfriend loophole,” that would disallow unmarried partners who were convicted of domestic violence from keeping guns.
“I think we can almost let out a sigh of relief,” said bill sponsor Republican Sen. Joni Ernst. “We need to get this over the finish line and we will.”