Skip to Main

April 4, 2019

Rep. Pressley Pays Tribute to Her Mother Following the Passage of VAWA

WASHINGTON  – Today, following the passage of H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (VAWA), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued a statement honoring her mother, Sandra Pressley, a survivor of domestic violence.


VAWA is about protecting the lives of real people and a strong value statement that Congress has a critical role and responsibility when it comes to saving the lives of women and children. I am humbled to be a co-sponsor of this legislation. To reaffirm protections for survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Let us reject the myth that strong women, bold women, independent women, do not find themselves in the throes of violence at the hands of someone who claimed to love them.

My mother, my shero, found herself in an abusive relationship. One that threatened her physical safety, her sanity, and her dignity. As a child to witness the abuse and degradation of the person who is your world, your everything, it is an image, a feeling, which never leaves.

My mom, Sandy, depending on the day, was beaten for being too pretty, too ugly, too smart, too dumb, too black. This man beat my mother’s limbs and down her spirit. His abuse was the deepest of betrayals.  He tried to permanently rob her of her dignity, her hope, her joy, her capacity to love and to receive love. 

Thank God he failed.

To the countless women who find themselves in the shoes of my mother, and to the countless daughters who find themselves looking on. I see you, I am fighting for you. I am you.

It is our sacred task to take these stories from the shadows, to put them on full display. If these stories make us uncomfortable, good. Let that discomfort lead to transformation – transformation in our discourse and transformation in our policymaking and a renewed commitment to our shared humanity.

Today’s passage of VAWA shows the nation that we say NO MORE.

NO MORE to the “boyfriend loophole,” which for nearly twenty years allowed abusive dating partners to purchase and to possess a firearm.

NO MORE to the days where a survivor must choose between living on the streets or remaining with their abuser.

NO MORE to the days when our Native American sisters experiencing domestic violence do not have equal protections under the law.

NO MORE to the exclusion of transwomen.

NO MORE to silence, to violence. 

Mommy, this one’s for you.   


The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 is robust, bipartisan legislation that calls for the protection of all people from violence and abuse, and ensures that survivors have access to essential services and to justice. Thanks to VAWA, the rate of domestic violence has declined by over 50% since 1994.  However, experts estimate that one in three women in the U.S. still experience domestic violence. Like previous reauthorizations, H.R. 1585 makes some vital improvements to address gaps in current law, based on extensive consultation with victim service providers, law enforcement, and other experts. 



# # #