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Action Alert

Act to Make Women Safe Now

Support Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act supports cost-saving measures for effective response to crimes of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault and dating violence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “One in five American women has been a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime, and one in four has experience domestic violence.” The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey of 2010 reported that:

  • 1.3 million women were raped during the year preceding the survey.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 women has been raped in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 6 women has been stalked in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 4 women has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • 81 percent of women who experience rape, stalking or physical violence report long or short-term impacts and have an “increased risk for heart disease, stroke, chronic pain, asthma, and diabetes,” while “children who witness family violence are more likely to experience depression, substance abuse, obesity, and asthma.”
  • Almost 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have been victims of other types of sexual violence.

The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) was passed by Congress in 1994. VAWA supports cost-saving measures for effective response to crimes of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault and dating violence. Through the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, VAWA gives prosecutors, judges, probation and correction officers, health care professionals, faith community leaders, law enforcement agencies and survivors the tools to hold offenders accountable, maintain safe communities and provide victim support. Because of VAWA, about $430 million is allocated to states, tribes and territories each year to fund training and the work of law enforcement and victim support agencies.

On February 2, 2012, the reauthorization of VAWA, S.1925, was passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but eight committee members voted against the bipartisan bill. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) is concerned colleagues are objecting because VAWA attempts to “protect too many victims.” Led by Sen. Charles Grassley’s objections (R-Iowa), the calendaring of the VAWA reauthorization for a full Senate vote is on hold. The companion bill has been introduced to the House of Representatives (H.R. 3977) and remains in committee.

VAWA Works

According to a National Alliance to End Sexual Violence report:

  • Reporting of domestic violence has increased as much as 51 percent.
  • All states have passed laws making stalking a crime and have strengthened rape laws.
  • The number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34 percent for women and 57 percent for men.
  • After using VAWA funding to institute a Lethality Assessment Program, Maryland’s intimate partner homicides have been reduced by a remarkable 41 percent over four years (2007-2010).
  • A 2010 study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice titled “Understanding Gender-specific Intimate Partner Homicide: A Theoretical and Domestic Service-oriented Approach” demonstrated that an increase in the number of legal services available is associated with a decrease in intimate partner homicide.
  • A 2009 Department of Justice study found Kentucky saved $85 million in one alone year through the issuance of protection orders and the reduction of violence they caused.
  • VAWA saved $12.6 billion in its first six years alone.

Ending violence and addressing crimes of violence in our states and the nation depends on reauthorization of VAWA. Proposed legislation before the House adds “intimate partner” to eligible relationships in the domestic violence definition and also authorizes services to develop and promote legislation that enhances responses to violence against Native American women. By reauthorizing VAWA, more needs can be met.

We need VAWA to ensure women’s safety and hold perpetrators accountable!


  • Let Congress know what VAWA means to women. Ask your congressional representative to become a co-sponsor of H.R.3977 today.
  • Tell the Senate to act on VAWA (S.1925).
  • Add your name to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence petition to urge the reauthorization of VAWA by sending an e-mail to reauthorizeVAWA@gmail.com.
  • Read the 2011 National Census of Domestic Violence Services Report.
  • Call your state’s attorney general to thank him or her for his or her support. If you live in Alaska, Alabama or Virginia, urge them to join the other 47 supporting attorneys general.
  • Blog, tweet or Facebook about VAWA. Tell how VAWA has helped your community and explain why it important for Congress to fight for VAWA. Share your perspective as a survivor and/or as an advocate and activist.
  • When tweeting, use hashtage #ReauthorizeVAWA.
Last Updated: 04/10/2014

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