Violence Against Women Act
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Since its enactment, VAWA programs, administered by the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS), have dramatically improved federal, tribal, state, and local responses to these crimes.
Through the original bill, which passed in 1994, VAWA created the first U.S. federal legislation acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes, and provided federal resources to encourage community-coordinated responses to combating violence. Up for renewal every five years, each VAWA reauthorization builds on existing protections and programs to better meet the needs of survivors. Reauthorized in 2000 it created a much-needed legal assistance program for victims and included responses to dating violence and stalking. In 2005, VAWA created new, holistic responses programs to meet the emerging needs of survivors and communities, such as prevention, landmark housing protections for survivors, funding for rape crisis centers, and culturally- and linguistically-specific services. VAWA 2013 enhanced access to safety and justice for Native American and LGBTQ survivors.
2019 Reauthorization Updates
On March 7th, 2019, a bipartisan bill (H.R. 1585) to renew and improve VAWA was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Hon. Karen Bass (CA-37) and Hon. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). H.R.1585 has passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. NNEDV urges the Senate to pass VAWA 2019 to ensure survivors have access to lifesaving protections and services.
The final VAWA 2019 reauthorization should reflect the provisions in H.R. 1585, which safeguard current protections to ensure all survivors have access to safety and justice. This includes ending impunity for non-Native perpetrators of violence against Native women and children; improving housing protections and providing safe housing options so that survivors do not have to choose between safety and homelessness; increasing investment in domestic and sexual violence prevention; promoting economic security for survivors; increasing avenues for justice; and supporting efforts to reduce domestic violence homicides.While federal funding is still available for domestic violence programs, the lapse of the underlying law (VAWA) has meant uncertainty for providers around the country. Advocates across the country call on Congress to urgently reauthorize VAWA.
“The improvements proposed in VAWA 2019, especially those that will reach survivors who are most marginalized, are long overdue,” said Monica McLaughlin, NNEDV Public Policy Director. “Today, survivors and advocates share the urgency and impatience of those who first rallied to create a national response to end domestic and sexual violence. Our movement urges Congress to swiftly reauthorize and invest in VAWA.”
Check back for updated information as the bill proceeds to the Senate.
- NNEDV’s statement on VAWA signing.
- NNEDV’s statement on VAWA passage
- NNEDV’s press statements on VAWA
- NNEDV’s President Kim Gandy on MSNBC
- NNEDV’s Vice President of Development & Innovation Cindy Southworth on PBS