Petition to Increase Scope of the Violence Against Women Act and Create Federal Level Laws

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Petition to Increase Scope of VAWA and create federal level Domestic Violence Laws

Authored by Monita Alcantara and MaryBeth Koenes on behalf of Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.

BLUF: The current federal protections within the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are not enough to protect those who suffer from Domestic Violence (DV) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). In the 26 years since its inception, not much has changed within VAWA. Furthermore, only six states have robust domestic violence acts in place to help survivors after abuse, as well as restrict perpetrators from further acts of violence.

BACKGROUND: According to the NCADV, 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and 1 in 2 female murder victims and 1 in 13 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners. COVID-19 has affected victims’ ability to safely seek help outside their homes, and the NCBI has reported a 22% increase in DV calls since March 2020. 

CALL TO ACTION: We are petitioning the White House, Congress and State Officials to increase the scope of VAWA to reduce incidents of intimate partner violence, decrease the cost of social and gender based violence, and change the culture around this type of violence. We specifically need a change in: 

  • DV education/resources for all schools, law enforcement, and first responders
  • Increased funding for public housing, rural efforts, and relocation costs for survivors
  • Recognize victims of DV as a protected class in employment provisions
  • A federal standard regarding violations of no-contact orders
  • Ensure all DV and IPV acts are felony acts 
  • Increased protections/security measures for victims who are at high-risk for COVID
  • Culturally specific programs to target minority groups and immigrants at risk 

SUMMARY: There needs to be a renewed national effort to end acts of violence in the home. This begins with educating the next generation to boost preventative efforts, and adding measures that allow survivors to thrive mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially after abuse. This effort can only end when domestic violence ends because “One is too many.”