We are celebrating the 16th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA). It is a federal law that was first signed by President Clinton on September13, 1994. VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in December 2005. It is up for reauthorization in 2011.
VAWA was developed as a result of concerned groups of prosecutors, law enforcement, victim advocates and the courts coming together and urging Congress to adopt legislation that would address the issue of domestic violence. Since it originally passed in 1994, the focus has expanded from domestic violence to include dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The intent of VAWA is to improve the way communities work together to address the issue of domestic violence. It was adopted to combine new penalties to prosecute offenders while also implementing programs to address the victim’s needs.
By requiring a coordinated community response (CCR), VAWA makes communities talk to each other and work together to ensure there is a safety net of services provided for victims and a coordinated response to the perpetrator.
This CCR is actually one of the greatest successes of VAWA. This type of collaboration didn’t exist before and the needs of the victims of domestic violence were not being addressed as quickly and efficiently as they are now.
We have always known that domestic violence is not a family issue. It is a community issue and it takes the entire community working together to really make a difference in the lives of those impacted by domestic violence. Thank you to our members of Congress who continue to understand and support the needs of victims by the continued passage and support of VAWA.