Legal Momentum led the effort to pass the federal Violence Against Women Act and continues to promote programs supporting and protecting victims of violence under the Act and at the state level. Every five years, Congress reauthorizes this vital legislation. Legal Momentum works in coalition to see that each reauthorization expands rights and increases resources for victims, and strengthens community support structures, such as shelters and law enforcement, which protect victims and prevent violence.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was a watershed moment in the history of women’s rights legislation in America. Violence against women, in the form of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse, and stalking was and continues to be a national epidemic. VAWA marks the first effort to deal with these problems on a federal level and provide resources for the myriad state, community and city organizations that assist victims in crisis and promote violence prevention. Legal Momentum played a critical role in drafting and advocating for its passage. Learn more about the history of VAWA.
Congressional Reauthorization: Legal Momentum chairs the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women and continues to spearhead congressional reauthorization advocacy surrounding VAWA. During the 2005 reauthorizations, Legal Momentum led efforts to increase employment and housing protections for victims of violence, and increased protections for immigrant women. The latest renewal, signed into law on January 5, 2006, extends the legislation for five years and brings the total amount of VAWA-related funding to more than $4 billion. Learn more about the legislative history of VAWA.
2011 VAWA Reauthorization: Alongside partners in the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, Legal Momentum is working to expand rights and protections for victims of violence through the 2011 VAWA reauthorization. Specifically, Legal Momentum is working to increase access to services for immigrant victims of violence and secure greater workplace protections for survivors of violence. Such protections include provisions that bar discrimination against survivors; provisions which guarantee a survivor’s job security when she/he must take time off to deal with violence-related issues, including protection orders, safety planning, etc.; and provisions which secure access to unemployment insurance for victims forced to leave their job in the aftermath of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
VAWA and Immigrant Women: Immigrant woman who are victims of crime such as domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, and human trafficking confront significant barriers to achieving personal safety and independence. Lack of eligibility and difficulty accessing immigration relief, public safety net benefits, and legal work authorization create paralyzing situations for women who literally have no where to turn for help. Because of heightened anxiety around immigration status, many fear seeking basic law enforcement assistance. Legal Momentum's Immigrant Women Program advocated for provisions included in the 2000 and 2005 VAWA Reauthorizations that eliminated some of the major obstacles immigrant women faced in achieving safety and independence.