The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (“NCADV”) applauds Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee for introducing the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018 (H.R.6545), a bill that makes vital yet modest enhancements based on the needs identified by people who work one-on-one with victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This bill truly centers victims and survivors and mostly comprises provisions with bipartisan support. It invests in evidence-based prevention, protects victims and survivors from abusers with dangerous weapons, provides access to safety and justice for Native women, and enhances the rights of victims and survivors to safety, to housing and to dignity.
As NCADV’s President and CEO, Ruth M. Glenn, says, “By introducing this bill, Ranking Member Jackson Lee and her staff demonstrate vision and a commitment to victims and survivors that both transcends and respects the need for a bill that all Members of Congress can support, regardless of personal philosophy or political party.” The primarily noncontroversial updates to the current Violence Against Women Act in this bill can and will save lives, and we urge Congress to pass it swiftly and with no harmful amendments.
The Violence Against Women Act, first passed in 1994 and reauthorized three times, most recently in 2013, is one of three pillars of the federal government’s response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking (“the four crimes”). It has revolutionized the nation’s response to crimes that were once considered private, family matters. Coordination between law enforcement, victim advocates, prosecutors and other stakeholders has transformed the way the justice system views and responds to the four crimes. Since VAWA was first authorized, domestic violence against women has decreased by close to two-thirds, and the rate of women killed by men in single victim/single murderer incidents has decreased by almost a quarter. VAWA is unique in that it recognizes and responds to the needs of historically marginalized communities, including Communities of Color, American Indians and Alaska Natives, immigrants and LGBTQ survivors. It provides resources, training, and technical assistance to a variety of stakeholders, including shelters and other victim service providers, law enforcement, courts and prosecutors.