The U.S. House passed an expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in February 2013, previously approved by the Senate earlier in the year, moving the legislation on for signature by the President. The legislation enlarged the existing VAWA by extending domestic violence protections to victims in the LGBT, undocumented immigrant, and native American communities.
VAWA, initially passed in 1994 and reauthorized since, created a comprehensive approach for the federal government to address the national problem of domestic violence. Among its features, VAWA:
- strengthens federal penalties and enforcement for domestic violence and sexual assault crimes;
- ensures nationwide enforcement of domestic violence protection orders issued in any U.S. state or territory;
- created the Office on Violence Against Women, under the U.S. Department of Justice;
- created the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE); and
- funded billions of dollars to programs assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Although VAWA has served to cut into the rate of domestic violence nationwide, the numbers remain staggering. If you are a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, or know of someone who is and you’d like to seek help, consider the following resources:
- National: Office on Violence Against Women
- National: National Domestic Violence Hotline
- National: NoMore.Org
- Hawaii: Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Hawaii: Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC) — also operates a 24-hour legal helpline (808-531-3771)