Let's Review: The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

What is our nations policy on Domestic Violence? This is outlined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was the first federal piece of legislation that deemed domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes.  This law also provided the federal resources needed to help stop violence. Since 1994, the law has been reauthorized and improved in 2000 and 2005. These improvements include the creation of legal-assistance programs, landmark housing protections, rape crisis centers and culturally and linguistically specific services for individuals who experienced domestic violence.

While the 2000 and 2005 reauthorizations have helped the fight to end the cycle of domestic violence, there was still much work to be done. In 2013, VAWA was reauthorized by the senate and the House of Representatives, and signed into the law by Obama on March 7, 2013.


What is the significance of the 2013 reauthorization?

VAWA 2013 aims to make sure all victims of domestic violence receive the resources and services they need in order to break free from the cycle of domestic violence. In the past Native Americans, immigrants, LGBT victims, college students, and public housing residents have not received the support needed due to lack of services or discrimination. However, this law is focused changing that. 


The VAWA 2013 reauthorization includes:

·      Giving tribal courts sovereign power to hold offenders accountable through investigation, prosecution, conviction and a sentence to both Native Americans and non-Natives who assault Native American spouses or partners.

·      Prohibition of discrimination (specifically LGBT) to ensure all victims receive the services and protection needed

·      Expansion of safe housing in all federally subsidized housing programs, specifically for protecting victims of sexual assault.

·      Requirement for schools to create dating violence prevention plans along with educating victims of their rights and resources.

·      The continuation and consolidation of VAWA grant programs. Keeping the previous 24 grant programs and consolidating them now into 18 programs.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence:

o   VAWA saved taxpayers at least $12.6 billion in net averted social costs

o   51% increase in reporting by women and a 37% increase in reporting by men.

These bullet points are just a few of the revisions and additions to VAWA. While VAWA has made large strides in providing care and resources to individuals who have experienced domestic violence, there is still much to be done. The fight is not yet won. We each have a role to play in the stopping the cycle of domestic violence; and it begins with awareness.

 For more information and specifics you can look at summary of VAWA 2013 provided by NNEDV: http://nnedv.org/downloads/Policy/VAWA2013_Summary.pdf


Image by Jay Inslee. https://www.flickr.com/photos/govinslee/8530995217 

Image by Jay Inslee. https://www.flickr.com/photos/govinslee/8530995217