Published on July 12, 2005
VAWA 2005 Overview
THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) -- landmark legislation that provides life-saving hotlines, shelters, services and laws to protect victims of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, will expire September 30 unless Congress acts soon.
First passed in 1994, and reauthorized and expanded in 2000, VAWA has marked a turning point in our nation's response to these crimes. As we look to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Congress has a unique opportunity not only to continue successful and vital programs, but also to expand on to further the safety and stability of the lives of survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 includes the following provisions:
Title I on the criminal justice system will: (1) renew and increase funding to over $400 million a year for existing grant programs for law enforcement, lawyers, judges and advocates; (2) stiffen existing criminal penalties for repeat federal domestic violence offenders; and (3) update the criminal law on stalking to incorporate new surveillance technology like Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
Title II on critical victim services will: (1) create a new, dedicated grant program for sexual assault victims that will strengthen the 1,300 rape crisis centers across the country; (2) reinvigorate programs to help older and disabled victims of domestic violence; (3) strengthen existing programs for rural victims and victims in underserved areas; and (4) increase funding to $5 million a year for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Title III on youth and children includes measures to: (1) promote collaboration between domestic violence experts and child welfare agencies; and (2) enhance to $15 million a year grants to reduce violence against women on college campuses.
Title IV aimed at prevention strategies includes programs supporting home visitations and specifically engaging men and boys in efforts to end domestic and sexual violence.
Title V strengthens the health care system’s response to family violence with programs to train and educate health care professionals on domestic and sexual violence, foster family violence screening for patients, and more studies on the health ramifications of family violence.
Title VI eases the housing problems for abuse victims by, including (1) $20 million grant programs to facilitate collaboration between domestic violence organizations and housing providers; (2) programs to combat family violence in public and assisted housing, including new requirements that domestic violence victims may not be evicted or cut off from voucher services because of the violence; and (3) enhancements to transitional housing resources.
Title VII helps abuse victims maintain secure employment by permitting victims to take limited (up to 10 days) employment leave to address domestic violence, such as attend court proceedings, or move to a shelter.
Title VIII improves and expands the immigration protections for battered women. In addition, it would ensure that victims of trafficking are supported with measures such as permitting their families to join them in certain circumstances, expanding the duration of a T-visa, and providing resources to victims who assist in investigations or prosecutions of trafficking cases brought by state or federal authorities.
Title IX focuses on violence against Native American women by creating a new tribal Deputy Director in the Office on Violence Against Women dedicated to coordinating federal policy and tribal grants. Authorizes tribal governments to access and upload domestic violence and protection order data on criminal databases, as well as create tribal sex offender registries, and strengthens available criminal penalties.
Communities of Color provisions throughout the bill will ensure that culturally-specific services, in a victim’s native language, from a service provider within the victim’s own culture, must be a core service offered to all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
And the Sexual Assault Services Act (SASA) in the Services and Outreach title of VAWA 2005 will create, for the first time, a desperately needed federal funding stream for direct services for sexual assault victims, as well as provide resources for state sexual assault coalitions, whose assistance is invaluable to service providers nationwide.