This Domestic Violence Awareness Month We Need a Strengthened and Reauthorized Violence Against Women Act
2021’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month is coming to a close. This year, as in others, we have joined with survivors and other advocates in recognizing all the progress made since Legal Momentum first began working to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, more than 50 years ago. Each October also provides us an opportunity to acknowledge that the work is not done. So as we wrap up Domestic Violence Awareness Month our focus is on the fact that victims and survivors need a strengthened and reauthorized Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) now.
Legal Momentum began working on what became VAWA in 1991—working alongside then-Senator Joe Biden and his staff for nearly 4 years to draft and build support for VAWA, which ultimately passed in 1994. In each of the four subsequent reauthorizations of VAWA we have learned more from survivors and those who work most closely with them about what their real needs are and how to most effectively meet them. Each VAWA reauthorization has been responsive to those needs. The current moment is no different. Since VAWA was last reauthorized in 2013 we have faced a pandemic that, while impacting all of us in many ways, has uniquely impacted survivors. Demand for services related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking is unprecedented and the need for access to these services is critical.
In March 2021 the House passed H.R. 1620, a VAWA reauthorization bill that meets the moment for survivors—informed by them and their advocates to strengthen VAWA in ways that reflect survivors’ current experiences. We need the Senate to build on this and introduce a strong VAWA reauthorization bill now. Victims and survivors cannot wait any longer. We continue to advocate for a strong, bipartisan VAWA reauthorization. Along with other advocates we held a VAWA Day of Action on October 20th in which we were joined by so many, from elected officials to celebrities, in urging the Senate to act now. You can still join us by letting your Senators know that you want to see VAWA strengthened and reauthorized without delay! And let’s make every month Domestic Violence Awareness Month by continuing to recognize and meet the needs of victims and survivors all year long. Keep scrolling for VAWA reauthorization “must have”s.
A Senate bill must be bipartisan, must build on H.R.1620, and must maintain protections for LGBTQ survivors and advocates and other vulnerable populations. It must also:
- Increase funding for culturally specific organizations;
- Invest in prevention;
- Affirm Tribes’ inherent authority to prosecute non-Native rapists and others who prey on Native women on tribal lands;
- Take meaningful action to address adjudicated domestic and dating abusers’ access to firearms;
- Improve access to housing for survivors;
- Promote economic security for survivors; and
- Address the criminal-legal system’s revictimization of survivors.