RESOURCE: VAWA Reauthorization

July 25, 2005

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT REAUTHORIZATION (2005)



The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA—landmark legislation that seeks to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking—expires September 30, 2005. Your help is needed to see that VAWA is renewed and strengthened through passage of S. 1197 and H.R. 2876.



FACTS ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE



· Nearly one in four women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood.


· Domestic violence is the largest cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.


· Homicide is the second leading cause of injury deaths among pregnant and postpartum women in the U.S.


· Total costs of rape and sexual assault are estimated to be $127 billion a year, including loss of productivity, medical and mental health care, police services and property damage.


· One of three American Indian and Alaska Native will be raped during their lifetime.


· Fifty-seven percent of homeless families identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness.



WHY VAWA IS IMPORTANT



The passage of VAWA in 1994 and its reauthorization in 2000 have changed the lives of victims who once suffered in silence. Through VAWA, Congress sent millions of dollars to states, Indian nations, territories and local communities to improve the criminal justice system response to crimes against women. These grants have provided communities with the tools to implement the principles of victim safety and offender accountability. VAWA is also a cost-effective investment, saving $14.8 billion in averted costs of victimization as a result of the original (1994) VAWA alone. Other VAWA successes include: All states passed anti-stalking laws and changed laws that treated date or spousal rape as a lesser crime than stranger rape. More victims are reporting violence. Since 1996, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has answered over 1 million calls. (1-800-799-7233 or for TTY 1-800-787-3224)



WHAT’S GOING ON IN CONGRESS ON VAWA? WHAT CAN YOU DO?



When Congress reauthorized VAWA in 2000, it added needed services for those with disabilities, older and rural women, as well as immigrant women (by establishing special visas and focusing on the trafficking of persons). In addition to reauthorizing existing VAWA programs VAWA 2005 develops innovative programs to ensure that victims and their children can obtain safe housing, ensure job security, receive legal assistance and provide a safe workplace. The reauthorization of VAWA also creates the Sexual Assault Services Act to provide needed funding to sexual assault service providers, and gives Congress a unique opportunity to help children and youth who experience or witness violence; address the needs of victims from communities of color; aid immigrant and tribal victims; and support prevention, health, housing and economic security programs designed to stop violence and help victims. Send a letter to your Senators and Representative asking them to support legislation to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act before it expires September 30, 2005. Ask your members of Congress to co-sponsor VAWA reauthorization (S. 1197/H.R. 2876). Without reauthorization the recent successes of VAWA could be lost. To keep abreast of this important priority and for the latest information on the timing of legislative action, sign up electronically for the Episcopal Public Policy Network at www.episcopalchurch.org/eppn. For more information about the National Domestic Violence Hotline visit http://www.ndvh.org/



WHAT DOES THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH SAY ABOUT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?



The Episcopal Church, USA strongly supports the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Past General Conventions have supported resolutions calling for an Episcopal response to domestic violence (2000-C025, 2000-D073 and 1994-A055). The Church was a strong supporter of this legislation in 1994 and its reauthorization in 2000. Episcopal parishes and dioceses throughout the country provide assistance to women and children who are victims of domestic violence. A new publication on domestic violence, “Now that the Silence is Broken,” is available through Parish Resources (800-334-7626).

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