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It Is Time to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and We Need to Do It Right

As Congress returns for the lame duck session, they face a number of outstanding issues -- one of which is the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA is a vital to the safety of victims, survivors, and their communities; it cannot simply be checked off of Congress’s to-do list by changing the dates for existing funding, ignoring the cries of countless survivors and direct service providers to do more. Survivors and their communities need Congress to take meaningful action.

 

The awareness of the scope of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking occurring in our nation has never been greater. Congress must pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization that invests in increased evidence-based prevention, enhances survivors’ access to safety and justice, and maintains critical protections for vulnerable communities.

 

Contact your Members of Congress, submit an op-ed or letter-to-the editor to your local newspaper, ask leaders in your community to do the same, and use the attached social media toolkit to raise awareness!

 

Tell them:

  • VAWA is vital to protecting community safety, preventing violence, serving victims, and holding abusers accountable.
  • A VAWA that rolls back important protections for vulnerable communities or that fails to make important improvements identified by victims and survivors is unacceptable. Simple changing the dates on the existing funding will not address the needs of survivors.
  • VAWA has always been, and must always be, bipartisan.

 

Contact your Senators and Representative by phone or online. Remember, despite the elections, we still have the same Members of Congress until Congress goes home in December.

 

SAMPLE SCRIPT OR ONLINE COMMENT:

 

Senate: My name is [your name], and I am a constituent from [city and, if applicable, program]. The Violence Against Women Act is one of the cornerstones in America’s fight against domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. [Optional: VAWA is important to me, because . . . ] Every VAWA reauthorization has been bipartisan and responsive to the identified needs of victims and survivors. This reauthorization can be no different. I urge [your Senator’s name] to support a VAWA reauthorization that maintains critical protections for vulnerable communities, invests in evidence-based prevention, and makes meaningful changes to protect victims and survivors. Anything less, including a reauthorization that simply changes the dates on existing funding or that rolls back critical protections for vulnerable communities, is unacceptable.

 

House of Representatives: My name is [your name], and I am a constituent from [city and, if applicable, program]. The Violence Against Women Act is one of the cornerstones in America’s fight against domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.  [Optional: VAWA is important to me, because . . . ]  I urge [your Representative’s name] to support H.R.6545, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2018, which maintains critical protections for vulnerable communities, invests in evidence-based prevention, and makes meaningful changes to protect victims and survivors. A reauthorization that simply change the dates on existing funding or a reauthorization that rolls back critical protections for vulnerable communities, is unacceptable.

 

OP-ED OR LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

 

Check with your local newspaper, but an op-ed is usually approximately 750 words, and a letter to the editor is typically 250 words or fewer. Submit materials yourself and encourage community leaders to do so, too! Don’t forget to mention your Senators and Representative by name, just to be sure they don’t miss your letter! Some key points to bring up:

  • VAWA has always been and must always be bipartisan;
  • Congress must pass a reauthorization with meaningful improvements. Neither straight reauthorization nor a reauthorization that rolls back critical protections for immigrants and nondiscrimination provisions is acceptable;
  • Your story or a story from your community;
  • VAWA is effective and efficient:
  • VAWA reauthorization should (choose one or more and expand on it):
  • Invest in evidence-based prevention
  • Include provisions to hold non-Natives who prey on Native women accountable
  • Provide new resources to law enforcement to develop more trauma-informed approaches
  • Provide law enforcement with more resources to enforce court orders and prevent intimate partner and law enforcement homicides
  • Improve protections for survivors in federally subsidized housing;
  • Support victims and survivors who need help rebuilding financially after experiencing violence
  • Address the needs of underserved communities
  • Improve the healthcare responses to the four crimes

 

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

  • Congress needs to heed the cries of survivors and take meaningful action to protect and support survivors – not merely extend the dates of the current #VAWA. #VAWA4ALL
  • Changing to date to extend the current Violence Against Women Act isn’t enough. Survivors need real change. #VAWA4ALL
  • Any #VAWA that rolls back protections for survivors or fails to make important improvements survivors say they need is unacceptable. #VAWA4ALL
  • Survivors have come forward and said they need important improvements in VAWA. Extending the dates isn’t enough. #VAWA4ALL

 

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Posted by Lynn Brewer-Muse at 2:16 PM
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