VAWA 2013: Let's Get it Done

We need to cover everyone who experiences domestic and sexual violence in this country. No exceptions. - Sen. Patrick Leahy

We thank the Senate for passing the Violence Against Women Act today by a strong and bipartisan majority (78-22). We particularly thank Senators Leahy and Crapo for their leadership and Majority Leader Harry Reid for making VAWA such a high priority for the new Congress. We now turn our attention to the House of Representatives.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore has already introduced a companion bill to the Senate VAWA, H.R. 11, which has close to 200 sponsors. The fate of the Violence Against Women Act now lies in the hands of the House Republicans.

We call on Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to see to it that an inclusive VAWA is passed without further delay. America’s women and girls are counting on you to protect them from violence and abuse. And so are we. Let’s get it done.


Violence Against Women Act Reintroduced in Congress

Today in Washington, a bipartisan group of Senators announced the re-introduction of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization. Led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the senators spoke of how violence against women had touched them and their states personally.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kelly Ayotte (R- NH) both mentioned that half of all homicides in their states were related to domestic violence. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), the lead republican, pointed out that there had already been four domestic violence murders in Idaho just this month.

Senators Klobuchar (D-MN) and Murray (D-WA) highlighted the importance of meeting the needs of all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as other updates included in the reauthorization such as better addressing cyber-stalking and youth dating violence. Senator Leahy is fast-tracking the bill directly to the floor so it may be voted on quickly.

“We’re calling on the Senate to quickly pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization so it can move to the House expeditiously,” said Futures Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Kiersten Stewart. “We greatly appreciate the commitment of the group of bipartisan Senators who are making VAWA a priority.”

Futures is proud to have played an instrumental role in developing the landmark Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994, which has been a game-changing piece of legislation ever since. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the Act’s many accomplishments over the past 18 years:

  • Domestic violence for adult women is down 60% since 1994. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this decrease. In addition to the lives lost and injuries sustained, the high costs of domestic violence—extending from public and mental health to lost productivity and beyond—are well documented. Any decrease in domestic violence will therefore benefit everyone in society.
  • The number of intimate partner deaths has decreased 34% for women and 57% for men. VAWA helps the justice system keep victims safe by ensuring recognition of victims’ protection orders in all jurisdictions of the United States as well as increasing rates of prosecution, conviction and sentencing for offenders.


Pushing The Violence Against Women Act Forward in 2013

While we are deeply disappointed that the 112th Congress was unable to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), we’ll continue our efforts to ensure the passage of this essential legislation in 2013. VAWA serves as the guiding infrastructure and national commitment to addressing violence against women in the United States and we must see it continue and adapt to the needs of victims. With your support, we can keep the momentum going and pass a new VAWA soon.

It’s important to note that, while the reauthorization bill has expired, VAWA itself is very much alive and will continue in its 2005 version. Programs and services will not close because VAWA was not reauthorized, but they are certainly threatened because the budget crises at the local, state, and national levels are always looming.

While President Obama and Congress addressed some critical tax issues of the “fiscal cliff,” funding cuts for core programs that help victims and prevent future violence against women and children will be on the table during the next budget debate in the months ahead.

“We estimate that nearly 200,000 victims of violence could lose services if another agreement is not made,” said Futures Without Violence Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Kiersten Stewart. “That figure does not even reflect the number of victims who will never be touched by a VAWA program because of limited funding.”