"VAWA is just as important today as it was when it first became law, and I urge Congress to keep the promise we made to our daughters and our granddaughters on that day––that we would work together to keep them safe."
- Vice President Joseph Biden, urging congressional reauthorization of VAWA, September 2012
VAWA 20th Anniversary, 2014
What Is It?
The Law That Changed History
In 1994, in a remarkable spirit of bipartisanship, the U.S. House and Senate joined to enact the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). On March 7, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the reauthorization of VAWA for another 5 years.
VAWA was the first comprehensive approach to fighting violence against women through sweeping legal reforms and critically needed increases in federal funding for services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The recent reauthorization is a strong reauthorization that includes protections for women on Tribal lands, improves protections for immigrant victims, ensures services for LGBT survivors, and adds important housing protections for victims. The bill also preserves and maintains core funding for life-saving victim services.
VAWA efforts break the cycle of intimate partner violence by changing the culture of acceptance through:
- coordinated, community-based services to keep victims safe
- law enforcement tools to hold offenders accountable
- criminal justice system response to sexual assault
- housing protections for victims
- services and prevention programs for teens and young adults
- programs for victims who are Native Americans or who belong to other underserved communities
Actions you can take to end the violence:
1. To learn more about VAWA and tools to prevent domestic violence, watch this PBS video Giving Americans better tools to prevent domestic violence
2. ACT NOW! Challenge attitudes that support violence. Learn new behaviors to support safe, strong and violence-free relationships.
ABUSE IS UNACCEPTABLE. Say it loud. Say it everywhere. Say it in your home, at your work place, in a letter to the editor, in a postcard to the President. Say it with your pocketbook: "I will no longer buy your sexist magazines." Say it over and over and over.
CHALLENGE SEXISM. Challenge degrading jokes, comments and actions. Be non-sexist role models to your children. Support sons to respect and value women as equals. Support your daughters to be self-loving and powerful.
TEACH CHILDREN EARLY. Insist that education on healthy relationships be an ongoing part of the school's curriculum. Put this on next month's PTA agenda as an ACTION item. Teach your children that they have a right to be safe and live free of abuse and violence in their lives.
NO MORE MALE VIOLENCE AS A FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT. Create a policy in your home that no TV shows or movies depicting men's violence will be watched. Refuse to attend movies that glorify this violence and/or stereotype women.
ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE. Believe you can make a difference in creating a violence free world for women and girls. Find five others who believe the same. Share your vision with youth and encourage their activism. Be creative. Be outrageous. Be persistent, direct, and determined.
WOMEN SUPPORTING WOMEN. Identify three women you can talk with about your own experience of abuse within relationships. Check with them if your current relationship is abusive. Tell them you believe abuse is unacceptable and that you are a resource if they ever need to talk. Volunteer your time to the organization to support other women who are abused or at risk of abuse.
3. Join the community of men @ ManKind committed to ending violence against women. Take the pledge to help to end domestic violence and snap a photo of yourself holding the pledge sign. We will post it online! Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Learn what other men are doing to end violence against women by reading our Men Speaking Up webpage.
5. Become a lifelong advocate for peace in relationships. Click on our Its Not OK Campaign and make a Personal Peace Agreement.