What is VAWA?
Recognizing the severity of crimes associated with domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. This was the first comprehensive federal legislative package designed with the priority of ending violence against women. To accomplish this goal, VAWA provided additional funding for investigations and prosecutions of these crimes. It was reauthorized in 2000, 2005 and 2013, with the initial mandate expanding to improve protections for battered immigrants, sexual assault survivors and victims of dating violence.
In addition, VAWA established the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). OVW is responsible for aiding communities across the country that are developing programs and practices to assist in deterring violence against women. In 2002, OVW became a permanent part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) with a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed director.
2022 Reauthorization of VAWA
In March 2022, VAWA was once again reauthorized. This time, it expanded jurisdiction for American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to protect their communities from domestic and sexual violence. The reauthorization highlighted other priorities, such as:
- Securing each of the grant programs to run until 2027, as well as expanding grant funding, which ensures that critical services, tools and trainings continue to be provided to survivors.
- Increasing services and support for underserved populations, including culturally specific communities, LGBTQ survivors, individuals with disabilities, immigrant survivors, older adults and victims in rural communities, among others.
- Strengthening the ability to prosecute federal officers who sexually assault or abuse those in their custody.
- Enhancing training for first responders on proven trauma-informed, victim-centered investigative techniques.
Prosecuting violence against women remains a priority for the DOJ. For more information regarding the VAWA, please contact Madelaine Lane or a member of the White Collar Criminal Defense Practice Group.