Focus of the Legislation
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed in 1994, authored by then-Senator Joseph R. Biden, and was most recently reauthorized on March 15, 2022 (the law is up for renewal every 5 years). The law provides much-needed resources for housing, legal assistance, and prevention programming to survivors of domestic abuse and the communities that work to protect them. The 2022 iteration also strengthens its nondiscrimination provisions to protect and include all genders. Another significant change is restoring tribal jurisdiction, to hold non-Native perpetrators accountable, a provision that tribes have been asking for since 1978. The focus of the 2022 iteration of the law is strengthening and broadening protections across all genders and cultures.
The Act requires the Secretaries of Education, Health & Human Services, and the US Attorney General to create an interagency Task Force to analyze efforts on college campuses to fight sexual violence; prepare a report for best practices for Congress; and develop recommendations for sex education, equitable discipline measures, and other culturally responsive and inclusive models. It will also require campus climate surveys to help inform decisions on changes needed.
The VAWA provides more education and training for universities to talk to and assist students who may have experienced abuse. Training programs will be implemented for campus police, counselors, and administrators, with specific support for HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities).
One of the greatest challenges currently facing many people is finding affordable housing. In the case of domestic abuse victims, finding new housing can seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, the VAWA has provisions to expedite and help subsidize housing.
The Act is really a focused effort to look at blind spots across the country in various institutions and cultures. According to the Office of Victims of Crime, other key provisions include:
The Department of Justice even released a statement the day of the signing praising the legislation, as well as its specific provisions.
Knowing these resources exist and accessing them can be two very different things. If you know of someone in an abusive situation, reach out to the national helpline to get immediate and specific help to your situation: 800-799-7233. If you need help navigating this law, reach out to our office for assistance.