WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The Violence Against Women Act helped realize a cultural shift in approaching domestic and sexual violence, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said.
Biden, marking the 15th anniversary of the act he sponsored while a U.S. senator, said his father was his inspiration behind getting involved in domestic violence legislation.
Biden told the gathering Tuesday at the Naval Observatory that his father was "a very strong, gentle, peaceful man" who was contemptuous of men who battered their wives and children and of women who hit their children.
Biden said he and other advocates for the act wanted to change the attitudes of men and boys toward domestic violence, as well as shift the nation's cultural response to such abuse. In addition, he said, he hoped to alter women's thinking that they brought on the abuse and empower them to act.
Early critics of the legislation said domestic violence was "a private matter," Biden recalled, adding it was largely "a learned behavior" passed down from abusers to their children.
Saying the act's passage was his proudest accomplishment, Biden said the next step is to get a similar violence-against-women measure passed on an international level.
The Violence Against Women Act and its funding helped create shelters for battered women, rape crisis centers and a national hotline. It also increased pretrial detention of accused batterers, increased the number of police officers and prosecutors trained in domestic violence, increased confidentiality protections for victims and led to the creation of a special unit with the Department of Justice.