Domestic Violence Becomes Political Weapon in War on Women

Recently it’s seemed as though anything affecting women, from breast cancer to birth control, has been manipulated into a political wedge issue. Today yet another “controversial” issue can be added to the list: domestic violence.

About 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, and one in four women in the US has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they know, and females who are 20 to 24 years old are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) acknowledged that domestic violence and sexual assault are crimes under the law. It also provided federal resources for community-coordinated responses to violence against women. VAWA has since been reauthorized twice (in 2000 and 2005), and it is due for reauthorization in 2011.

This year, the legislation reauthorizing VAWA (S.1925) will strengthen programs to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The Violence Against Women Act includes several updates and improvements to the law, including:

  • Improvements in tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by training law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel on identifying and managing high risk offenders and connecting high risk victims to crisis intervention services;
  • Improvements in responses to the high rate of violence against women in tribal communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country;
  • Measures to strengthen housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs;
  • Consolidation of programs and reductions in authorizations levels to address fiscal concerns, and renewed focus on programs that have been most successful;

Senators who oppose the reauthorization in the current form have expressed that they feel “trapped” by the some of the additions to the bill, specifically the expansion of services for immigrants and people in same-sex partnerships. However, the goal of the reauthorization of any bill is to both modernize and improve it.

While these aspects of the reauthorization have been hyper-publicized, the real issue at stake is the continued support for women who have recently left or are still in abusive relationships. Above all, let’s make sure our priority remains the health, safety and well-being of ALL women.

Take action today: Urge your Senators to quickly and effectively reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Photo courtesy of National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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Katharine Nasielski

About Katharine Nasielski

Katharine Burd Nasielski is the Communications Associate at the RAC and was an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant from 2011-2012. She graduated in 2011 from Northwestern University and is originally from Philadelphia, PA where she is a member of Society Hill Synagogue.

3 Responses to “Domestic Violence Becomes Political Weapon in War on Women”

  1. Let’s put politics and emotions aside, and have an honest conversation. VAWA is a deeply flawed law that rips families apart, violates men’s fundamental rights, squanders resources through a complete lack of accountability, and does not effectively protect families (men, women and children) from domestic violence.

    The law should NOT be reauthorized in its current form, but reworked to be gender neutral and to provide accountability, so that it can truly help families.

    Some positive changes are outlined in the proposed Partner Violence Reduction Act, which:

    — Removes provisions that violate the Constitution and restores civil rights to the accused.

    — Gives first priority to real victims and reduces false allegations by constraining definitions and distinguishing between “alleged” victims and “adjudicated” victims.

    — Seeks to protect and restore families when the abuse is minor.

    — Removes harmful mandatory arrest, predominant aggressor, and no-drop prosecution policies, thus helping to restore due process.

    — Allows legal assistance to be provided both to the alleged victim and alleged offender, thus affirming the Constitutional guarantee of “equal protection of the laws.”

    — Requires third-party accreditation of domestic violence training, education, and public awareness programs to assure the accuracy and balance of the information presented.

    — Makes the law gender-inclusive and removes discriminatory policies.

    — Improves the accountability of domestic violence organizations

    — Curbs immigration fraud.


  1. War on Women, or political viewpoints, or whatever is convenient to garner the vote… « A Long, Loud Sigh - August 16, 2012

    […] Domestic Violence Becomes Political Weapon in War on Women […]

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