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Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

University of Minnesota
Campus Tour to Spotlight Violence Against Women on Campus
March 31, 2010
Minneapolis, MN

       Good morning. I spent many summers in Minneapolis as a child, and I still have family in the Twin Cities. So, it's great to be back and here with all of you!

       Thank you, Jeff. In the many years I've known you, I've been so impressed by your work to end family violence. Your research has helped to lay the groundwork for countless successful programs. You are truly an institution in this field.

       I also want to thank Roberta Gibbons, who has worked so hard to make the Aurora Center an invaluable resource. Thank you, Roberta, for all you and your staff do to prevent and respond to sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking.

       I had the opportunity to tour the Aurora Center this morning. I met some of the hard-working staff and volunteers. These dedicated individuals are providing quality services to women who have suffered traumatic events.

       Finally, I have to thank Dr. Ed Ehlinger, who invited me to appear on his show, A Public Health Journal, with Roberta this morning. I appreciated the chance to bring the Justice Department's public awareness campaign to the Twin Cities.

        Violence against women is an issue all of us must address. It's both an individual tragedy and a collective trauma.

       I was saddened to hear about the recent sexual assault of a University of Minnesota student. I know that you all are personally affected every time a crime like this occurs.

       This tragedy underscores the crucial need for places like the Aurora Center. It also emphasizes the importance of our efforts to increase awareness.

       My work with victims goes back to the 70s, when I helped set up the American Bar Association's Committee on Crime Victims. I also actively pushed for crime victim legislation in the 80s, including the Victims of Crime Act.

       My visit today is part of a year-long effort by the Justice Department to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. We are renewing our commitment to combating domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. And we cannot do this alone. We need your help.

       Department officials are visiting campuses across the country to meet directly with students and faculty. Our goal is to make sure that survivors know that they have a place - and a voice - in this Administration.

       Through the Office on Violence Against Women - or OVW - and through our Office for Victims of Crime, the Department of Justice provides critical support for women who have been victimized. These offices provide national leadership and vital funding for programs to help victims. They also work to strengthen services for victims and hold offenders accountable.

       Since 1999, OVW alone has distributed approximately $87 million to 300 individual institutions of higher education.

       Through its Campus Programs, OVW is helping colleges and universities adopt comprehensive responses to violent crimes against women.

       For the past three years, the Campus Program's annual appropriation was approximately $9.5 million. The same amount has been requested for 2011.

       Research shows that the number of rape cases among college-age women is four times higher than the rate among women of all ages. Bureau of Justice Statistics research indicates that 57 percent of rape or sexual assaults against females were committed by an offender they knew. Too often, these crimes are not reported.

       Student victims who do come forward often face additional challenges. They live in a campus environment, where it is hard to avoid the perpetrators. Victims who wish to remain anonymous may find it difficult. Rape victims may even face harassment by classmates or the perpetrator's friends.

       Violence against women has devastating effects on entire communities and can lead to many other forms of violence.

       We are working to prevent and respond to related types of violence, including children exposed to violence. Recent Department research found that 1 in 4 children are exposed to some form of family violence in their lifetime. Today, the Justice Department announced the availability of up to $5.4 million in grant funding to address this problem before these children reach college campuses.

       We've come a long way in the last 15 years, but there's still much work to be done. I'm here to ask you all to continue your commitment to ending violence against women.

       Advocate. Volunteer. Speak out and listen. And do not allow victims to suffer in silence.

       Thank you. I look forward to hearing from-and learning from-our panelists.

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