Videos & Speeches

Mr. President, in large and small communities across our country, way too many Americans find themselves placed in danger by the very people who are supposed to love and protect them – their families. Each year, more than 2 million women are victims of domestic violence across our country. In Kansas, an estimated 1 in 10 adult women will suffer from domestic abuse this year.

I am here this evening to try to give a voice to the hopeless – to those who have often been too afraid to speak out for themselves. Domestic violence is not just a problem for women; children and men are all too often victims as well. Throughout October, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we are especially mindful of these victims and the urgent need to put an end to the cycle of violence.

I can imagine many Americans assume that domestic violence does not occur in their neighborhoods or among their friends, with those with whom they are acquainted. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Domestic violence does not discriminate by race, gender, age group, education, or social status. Three years ago, citizens in my hometown of Hays, KS, learned of the tragic death of a young woman from domestic violence.

Today, I’d like to share with you the story of Jana Lynne Mackey. I shared Jana’s story with my colleagues when I served in the U.S. House of Representatives, but it bears repeating because it is a solemn reminder of the urgent need to put an end to this so-called “silent crime” that plagues hundreds of thousands of homes across our country.

Jana was born in 1982 in Harper, KS, and spent her childhood in Hays. She was an active member of 4-H, an athlete, and a talented musician. Upon graduation from high school, Jana completed a bachelor’s degree, where she discovered her passion – advocating on the behalf of others.

She went on to pursue a law degree from the University of Kansas and fought for equality and social justice through her work with countless organizations, including volunteer work in Lawrence, KS, at the GaDuGi SafeCenter, a shelter that aids victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. But 3 years ago, on July 3, 2008, at the young age of 25, Jana’s own life was taken by domestic violence.

More than 1,100 people gathered together at Jana’s memorial service to celebrate her life. In her death, Jana’s parents, Curt and Christie Brungardt, started the Eleven Hundred Torches Campaign to encourage 1,100 people to carry on Jana’s torch. Since its creation, the campaign has attracted more than 1,100 volunteers who now make a difference in lives across the country through civic engagement and volunteerism. Yet there is so much more that must be done.

Throughout our country, an estimated one in four women still suffers abuse during their lifetime. Domestic violence brings fear and hopelessness and depression into the lives of every victim. But we must not only work to end this silent crime; also, we must care for those who are the victims. By volunteering at a local shelter, speaking out when you become aware of domestic violence or making a donation to a local organization, every citizen can find a way to get involved and make a difference.

This October, and throughout the year, let us be mindful of the victims of domestic violence and do our part to help break the cycle and bring hope to those who suffer. Let each of us be a torch to see that we bring about an end to domestic or family violence. The tragedy of Jana’s death is a rallying cry, calling each of us to make a difference in the lives of others.