Renew act to protect possible victims of domestic violence
Our elected officials have an ideal opportunity to demonstrate bipartisanship and show they support some of the most vulnerable people living in America.
It’s called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Congress passed this landmark legislation in 1994 as a comprehensive approach to addressing violence against women. This category includes domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
The VAWA expired last year.
Grant funds from the VAWA helped improve law enforcement and prosecution strategies at local and state levels. The VAWA also set up an infrastructure for federal, state and local governments to collaborate with service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts.
Congress passed a version of the VAWA earlier this year. HR 4970—known as the Adams-Cantor version—leaves immigrant, native and women in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community unprotected.
By reauthorizing the VAWA in its full form, lawmakers are not making a statement on immigration. Immigrant women are often threatened with deportation or revocation of their visas if they leave violent relationships.
Reauthorization is also not a commentary on same-sex marriage. The YWCA USA reports that 45 percent of LGBT victims are turned away from domestic violence shelters and 55 percent are denied protective orders. These victims are denied services based on their sexual orientations.
Worldwide, the YWCA supports all women and victims of abuse, regardless of sexual orientation, immigration status or race. The YWCA does not tolerate the isolation of entire segments of the community that face unique barriers to accessing services.
The YWCA supports anti-violence policies that protect victims, hold perpetrators accountable, and work to eradicate sexual assault and domestic violence, trafficking of women and girls, and dating violence. Specifically, we support the continuance and full funding for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the VAWA and legislation that ensures employment stability and economic security for victims of violence against women.
I recently asked Janesville Police Chief David Moore how citizens can help prevent domestic violence. Included in his answer:
“Citizens can change the social norms by acknowledging the harm of domestic violence. Speak out against it, and support legislation that fights domestic violence.”
This is your chance to prevent domestic violence. Write to your congressional representatives and urge them to reauthorize VAWA in its complete form.
Those in need cannot wait much longer. The YWCA USA estimates that roughly 2,600 women in America have been murdered as a result of domestic violence and sexual assault since the VAWA expired.
Beth Wheelock Tallon is public relations director of the YWCA Rock County, 1735 S. Washington St., Janesville, WI 53546; website www.ywcarockcounty.org. Readers can reach her at 608-752-5445, ext. 205, or email@example.com.