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November 16, 2023

Pressley, Markey Unveil Resolution to Honor Survivors of Homicide Victims Nationwide

Resolution Designates Nov. 20 – Dec. 20 as National Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month

Resolution Text (PDF)

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) unveiled a Congressional resolution to honor survivors of homicide victims by establishing November 20- December 20th as National Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts currently recognizes these dates as Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month, and last year, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance led by Councilor At-Large Julia Mejia in support of Rep. Pressley’s resolution at the federal level.

“Too many families are denied the recognition and healing they deserve when their loved ones are stolen by violence, which is why we’re keeping up the fight to establish a National Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month.” said Rep. Pressley. “Gun violence, in particular, is a public health crisis impacting families in Massachusetts and across the country, and we cannot allow homicides and the trauma they cause to become normalized in this country. Our resolution honors the voices and experiences of survivors of homicide victims, and I am so grateful to Senator Markey and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute for their partnership. Congress must pass this resolution without delay.”

“Losing a loved one to gun violence is one of the most painful events a person can live through,” said Senator Markey. “Gun violence not only inflicts mental trauma on survivors and victims, but also presents economic burdens on families and communities. I am proud to introduce this Senate Resolution to create a National Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month and amplify the efforts of survivors and advocates to heal the harm that gun violence inflicts on our society. This Resolution encourages compassionate and comprehensive support for families impacted by homicide, and calls for desperately needed research to improve survivor care. We strengthen our communities and our country when we help survivors heal through hope.”

Notably, for every one homicide victim, there is an average of 10 surviving family members who suffer their loss in the aftermath of homicide. The resolution seeks to promote awareness of the intergenerational, traumatic, and lasting impacts of gun violence on families and broader communities. The resolution specifically:

  1. Encourages support for survivors of homicide victims, including families, schools, and communities, with support services, information, and research to better address the needs of families and communities severely impacted by violence and to consider ways to improve access to, and the quality of, mental health services for survivors of homicide victims.
  2. Calls on the people of the United States, interest groups, and affected persons to take an active role in the fight to end gun violence and homicide; to respond to all families suffering in the aftermath of homicide with consistency, compassion, competence and centering the principles of love, unity, faith, hope, courage, justice, and forgiveness; and to observe National Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month with appropriate activities.

The resolution is supported by the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a healing and trauma support center based in Dorchester, Massachusetts, focused on caring for families and communities impacted by murder, trauma, grief, and loss.

“As gun violence and homicides continue to rise, the survivor rate continues to climb. Families across the country feel its residual impact, especially during the holiday season. It is important, now more than ever, we honor the unique experiences of survivors of homicide victims. We thank Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley for her leadership in the National Observance of Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month,” said Chaplain Clementina M. Chéry, President and CEO, Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.

“Back in 2000, an ad hoc committee of survivors of homicide victims [in Massachusetts] came together and said, we deserve some space in the calendar year to be observed and to be celebrated, and to have permission to honor our loved ones,” said Alexandra Chery-Dorrelus, Co-Executive Director, Louis D. Brown Peace Institute

“Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month is not only a time for survivors to come together and be in community during a time of year that can feel particularly challenging, but it’s a time when we get to really showcase survivors as changemakers, community leaders, and champions for peace. This awareness month began in Massachusetts because of the grass-roots leadership of survivors in the community, and survivors continue to lead the way to peace and healing both in Massachusetts and beyond,” said Pace McConkie Jr., Policy & Advocacy Manager, Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
“Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness month is a powerful opportunity to reflect, take action, and a time to celebrate our loved ones in community. This time can feel isolating while feeling the loss of a loved one at holidays, the shorter darker days, and colder temperatures; the awareness month provides space to connect, heal, and act. It is an inviting space with programming to connect with others and reconnect with ourselves,” said Julie Feinberg, Peace Fellow Intern, Louis D. Brown Peace Institute

A copy of the resolution can be found here.

Congresswoman Pressley is a long-time champion for gun violence prevention and supporting those experiencing trauma. She currently serves as a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and she helped pass  H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act – two long-overdue, bipartisan gun violence prevention bills.

Throughout her career, Congresswoman Pressley has been a strong advocate for trauma-conscious policymaking.  In February 2023, she celebrated the passage of her Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act, bicameral legislation to expand mental health support for survivors of natural disasters and terrorist attacks that are designated emergency declarations by FEMA. It was signed into law by President Biden in December 2022.

In June 2022, Rep. Pressley applauded the House’s passage of gun violence prevention legislation, the Protect Our Kids Act and the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act. In a House Oversight and Committee meeting, Congresswoman Pressley called for meaningful policy action to combat the uniquely American gun violence epidemic and rejected suggestions by Republican lawmakers that arming teachers and funding more school police is the answer to ending mass shootings. 

In June 2021, Rep. Pressley reintroduced the STRONG Support for Children Act, her landmark legislation that takes a holistic and community-based approach to addressing the growing crisis of childhood trauma. 

In March 2021, Rep. Pressley sent a letter to President Biden calling on him to address the nation’s growing trauma crisis and laying out a series of steps the administration should take to confront the far-reaching hurt plaguing our communities and our nation.  In April, she published an op-ed where she reflected on the collective pain experienced by communities in her district over the past year. 

In July 2019, Rep. Pressley worked with Chairman Cummings to convene the first-ever Congressional hearings on childhood trauma.  Watch Congresswoman Pressley’s full question line and follow-up questions here and here

As a Boston City Councilor, she convened the Council’s first-ever listening-only session to hear directly from those impacted by the trauma of community gun violence.