Outreach - Congress Due to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

Feb 2, 2011

This year Congress is due to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). First passed in 1994, VAWA has been reauthorized twice, most recently in 2005. It authorizes about $800 million a year, with the bulk of funds directed to improve the law enforcement and the criminal justice response to victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The more recent reauthorization, however, also provided funds for services for sexual assault survivors, tribal and underserved communities, and children exposed to violence, and for programs working with men and youth and health care interventions. VAWA is the largest and best-known law addressing domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Local advocacy is critically important to ensuring that Congress fully funds authorized programs in 2011. Below are some talking points and facts to use in educational materials, letters and emails to lawmakers and the media, and in other ways. Make sure to adapt them to reflect your unique voice, experience and views.

Talking Points

  • Domestic, dating and sexual violence are pervasive problems in our community, and every community. Every day four to five women are murdered by their intimate partners and too many teens and women live in fear of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and other forms of violence. [Insert local statistic.]
  • We must do much more to stop this violence – to protect the teens and young women who suffer the highest rates of rape, sexual assault, stalking and domestic abuse – and to teach the next generation that violence is always wrong.
  • Here in [community name], we are lucky to have programs like [local program] that protect victims.
  • But these programs are endangered by state funding cuts, and we aren’t putting enough resources into prevention. [Add fact/antidote on how budget cuts have already affected the community.]
  • The Violence Against Women Act can help. Since it was enacted in 1994, it has provided life-saving assistance to women, men and children across the country.
  • We need Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the legislation this year, and to put more money into [prevention, teaching teens about healthy relationships, training health care providers to help patients facing abuse, and encouraging men and boys to be part of the solution].
  • Especially during these tough economic times, when victims depend on the system more than ever, we need Congress to prioritize reauthorizing VAWA. Stopping domestic violence, sexual assault and teen dating violence and protecting victims is urgent.
  • There are solutions to the violence that pervades our society. There is real hope that we can stop domestic and sexual violence. VAWA is the largest federal law addressing domestic violence, teen dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Congress must reauthorize VAWA to invest more resources into building healthy communities – for our children and their children.