Important Domestic Violence Legislation Introduced in the Senate
AUSTIN, TX – On February 9th, Senators Richard Durbin, D-IL, Joni Ernst, R-IA, Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, and Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2022. VAWA is a landmark piece of legislation that seeks to improve criminal, legal and community-based responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking in the United States. Since it was first passed in 1994, each re-authorization of VAWA has brought the opportunity to build upon existing protections, expand services to survivors, and offer survivors much needed additional resources — especially those who have been historically under-represented.
The re-authorization bill increases access to services for survivors, including community-specific services and legal services. It also enhances the implementation of housing protections and expands access to temporary and emergency housing; increases access to safety and justice for Native survivors through tribal jurisdiction; maintains important non-discrimination provisions; creates a new LGBTQ+ grant program, increases access for culturally specific communities, and invests in resources for prevention. A full summary can be found here.
“All survivors should have a variety of options to meet their evolving and complex needs for services and support. We applaud this re-authorization bill, especially because of the critical enhancements that address the needs of marginalized and vulnerable survivors. Unfortunately, survivors need support more than ever, as demonstrated by the increase in demand for our services. On December 30th, The Hotline answered our 6 millionth contact since our inception in 1996, and, in 2021, we answered over 408,000 calls, chats and texts (contacts)–45,185 more contacts answered than in 2020,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of The Hotline.
While the programs and protections created by VAWA have advanced the U.S.’s overall response to domestic violence, it is important to note that the longtime over-reliance on the criminal justice system and law enforcement intervention must change. We need more investment in holistic community-based and culturally specific support and prevention-based approaches. Survivors want and need different supports, including community accountability practices, safe, affordable housing, living-wage job opportunities, rehabilitative programs for those causing harm, relief from coerced debt and financial abuse, childcare, counseling and healthcare, and more.
As our nation moves forward in addressing the epidemic of domestic violence, we believe that legislation and responses need to continue to focus on prevention and robust resources for survivors as they seek safety and re-build their lives.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline envisions a world where all relationships are positive, healthy, and free from violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship abuse in any form, help is available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides free, confidential support 24/7/365. Text START to 88788, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or chat online at TheHotline.org. You are not alone.