Angelina Jolie traveled to Washington DC again this week, and again her visit was about Congress’s need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. Her eldest daughter Zahara Jolie-Pitt, age 17, joined her on the trip to Capitol Hill, and Zahara was in some of the meetings too. Per People Magazine, Angelina “has worked closely with the bill’s sponsors and advocates on provisions to address the impact on kids of domestic violence and the long-term health effects of trauma.” She addressed the need to understand how the “trauma effects of abuse” have far-reaching consequences for children, families and the health of society. Angelina has also been advocating for Kayden’s Law, “which requires trauma-informed court processes and legal standards and judicial training that minimizes the risk of harm to children.”
Jolie also made a passionate speech with some of the senators and victims’ rights advocates, and I’m including the video below. She’s been working with Senator Durbin, Senator Murkowski, Joni Ernst, Ambassador Susan Rice and more. Here’s part of her speech:
“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… The reason that many people struggle to leave abusive situations is that they’ve been made to feel worthless. When there is silence from a Congress too busy to renew the Violence Against Women Act for a decade, it reenforces that sense of worthlessness.”
“The ugly truth is that violence in homes is normalized in our country. 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, like Kayden’s Law, or funding for non-racially biased forensic evidence collection, or the jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse and sex trafficking on tribal land. These protections are urgently needed.”
“Most of all, I want to acknowledge the children who are terrified and suffering at this moment, and the many people for whom this legislation comes too late. The women who have suffered through this system with little or no support — they still carry the pain and trauma of their abuse. The young adults who have survived abuse and emerged stronger, not because of the child protective system, but despite it. And the women and children who have died, who could have been saved.”
Angelina is an incredibly compassionate and empathetic person, and I think even if she was in a perfectly well-adjusted non-violent marriage, she would still feel this passionately about VAWA. But given what we know about why her marriage to Brad Pitt ended, and how she ran screaming from him following a violent altercation on a plane in 2016, all of this feels very personal. Add to that, she’s been fighting Pitt in court for years. That fight has awakened her interest in children’s rights and the need to protect children from abuse and a justice system which was not built to protect kids. What happened on that plane fundamentally changed her.
Photos courtesy of Instar, Instagram, Getty.