"Twenty years after the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), many citizens cannot remember a day in which Americans ignored this violence, or worse, condoned it. The papers are flooded daily with stories from abroad--of gang rapes and kidnappings, of honor killings and acid attacks, of a child shot for promoting girls' education. History tells us, however, that what we see today so clearly as an assault on human dignity abroad has not always been seen so clearly at home. Twenty years ago, for most citizens, domestic violence and sexual assault were covered by a veil of ignorance and inattention, an open secret, acknowledged but ignored. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, public officials openly declared that the federal government had no role to play, that battling domestic violence was a 'private family matter.' Then, members of Congress complained that federal intervention was 'anti-family,' that shelters were 'indoctrination centers' filled with 'missionaries who would war' on the family, that domestic violence was somehow akin to 'spanking' or 'nagging.' Citizens dismissed sexual assault and battering by blaming the victim--'She asked for it,' 'she wore a short skirt,' 'she drank too much.' In 1990, when it was first introduced, the Violence Against Women Act gave a new name and a new voice to an ancient tragedy."
White House Under President Obama: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/