Renewing Our Commitment To Combating Domestic And Sexual Violence

By:  Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Last week, we joined together to introduce the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011.  For almost 18 years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been the centerpiece of the federal government’s commitment to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  We should reauthorize and strengthen these programs. 

Since it was first enacted in 1994, the programs authorized by VAWA have provided the resources and training needed in our communities to change attitudes toward these reprehensible crimes.  The Violence Against Women Act has saved countless lives.  It has long enjoyed bipartisan support, and it is in that tradition that we have proposed this reauthorization legislation.  

While we have made great strides in reducing domestic violence and sexual assault, these difficult problems remain, and there is more work to be done.  Budgets are tight, but we cannot simply turn our backs on these victims. For many, the programs funded through the Violence Against Women Act are nothing short of a life line.  

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act reflects Congress’s ongoing commitment to end domestic and sexual violence.  It seeks to expand the law’s focus on sexual assault, to ensure access to services for all victims of domestic and sexual violence, and to address the crisis of domestic and sexual violence in tribal communities, among other important steps.  It also responds to these difficult economic times by consolidating programs, reducing authorization levels, and adding accountability measures to ensure that Federal funds are used efficiently and effectively. 

The Violence Against Women Act has been successful because it has consistently had strong bipartisan support for nearly two decades. Today, we build on that foundation. We hope that Senators from both parties will join us to pass this critical reauthorization, which will provide safety and security for victims across America.

Leahy serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Crapo on the Senate Budget Committee.