Rep. Gwen Moore Bravely Recounts Own Rape to Show Support for Victims

Challenging the lack of support for renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, Wisconsin Rep Gwen Moore tells her personal story of rape and abuse

With its all-time low approval rating at 9 percent, Congress is often portrayed as a clown car stuck in reverse, but every once in a while, a voice rises above the partisan bickering. And lately, those voices are female. We’ve already sung the praises of legislators like Oklahoma State senator Constance Johnson, Georgia State Rep. Yasmin Neal and Virginia state senator Janet Howell for speaking out against anti-choice legislation. But the woman who gets the biggest slice of courage cake is Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore (D).

On the floor of the House of Representatives on March 28, Rep. Moore gave a stunning speech describing her repeated childhood sexual abuse and a date rape as a teenager. Why get so personal? To underscore the importance of renewing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), because in her words, violence against women is as “American as apple pie.”

What used to be a bipartisan bill since its inception in 1994, VAWA suddenly has no Republican supportingt. On Feb. 2, the House Judiciary Committee rejected its automatic renewal by a vote of 10-8. Even though the cost of the bill has been slashed $100 million, Republican opponents take issue with some of VAWA’s new provisions that would protect against discrimination for battered women in same-sex relationships, as well as legal assistance for undocumented immigrants who’ve been assaulted.

Moore said the House Judiciary Committee's lack of support for the bill brought up terrible memories for her "of having boys sit in a locker room and sort of bet that I, the egg-head, couldn't be had." She continued: "And then the appointed boy, when he saw that I wasn't going to be so willing, completed a date-rape and then took my underwear to display it to the rest of the boys. I mean, this is what American women are facing."

When it comes to violence against women, is there such a thing as protecting too many victims of domestic abuse? Are only some women worthy of help? Do we really have to qualify that now?

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