Zahara joined Jolie at the event, where she spoke in favor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Angelina Jolie made a powerful appearance in the Senate on Wednesday, where she delivered a passionate speech during the introduction of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which, according to Congress, seeks “to prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.”
Jolie shared a photo (below) showing that her 17-year-old daughter Zahara was with her in D.C., ahead of the press conference, as the two appeared to be going over her speech. “Heading into the Senate’s introduction of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, I’m grateful and humbled to join with dedicated advocates and legislators,” Jolie captioned the mother-daughter photo. “I’m also glad to share in the advocacy with Zahara — and for her presence to calm my nerves before today’s press conference.”
Jolie was one of the women who spoke during the event, urging Congress to pass the act — calling it “one of the most important votes US senators will cast this year.” “Standing here at the center of our nation’s power, I can think only of everyone who’s been made to feel powerless by their abusers, by a system that failed to protect them,” began the actress. “Parents whose children have been murdered by an abusive partner, women who suffer domestic violence yet are not believed, children who have suffered life-altering trauma and post-traumatic stress at the hands of people closest to them.”
“The reason that many people to leave abusive situations is that they’ve been made to feel worthless, when there is silence from a Congress too busy to renew the Violence Against Women Act for a decade, it reinforces that sense of worthlessness,” she continued. “You think, ‘I guess my abuser’s right, I guess I’m not worth very much.'” After sharing stats demonstrating just how prevalent domestic violence is in the country, she said the situation deserves consideration and respect of Congress “as much if not more than any other crisis we face”
“As survivors of abuse know all too well, victims of our failed systems are not allowed to be angry. You’re supposed to be calm, patient and ask nicely. But you try staying calm when it’s as if someone is holding your head under water,” she continued. “Try to stay calm when you’re witnessing someone you love being harmed. Try to stay calm if after you were strangled and you find the courage to come forward, you discover that your chances of proving the abuse are now gone, because no one took into account the different ways bruising presents in Black or brown skin and they failed to check properly for signs of injury.”
She then took a moment to give a special thanks to the number of parents who have fought to change the laws after losing their own children to domestic violence — championing them for revisiting their trauma regularly to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future. “Most of all, I want to acknowledge …” she continued, before getting choked up and pausing for a moment, “…the children who are terrified and suffering at this moment. And the many people for whom this legislation comes too late.”
“The women who have suffered through the system with little or no support,” she concluded, “who still carry the pain and trauma of their abuse, the young adults who have survived abuse and emerged stronger, not because of the child protective system, but despite it, and the women and children who have died who could have been saved.” Jolie visited D.C. to push for the act in September and December as well, sharing a photo from her December trip to Instagram showing her and Zahara with a number of representatives and advocates working toward change.