Sullivan Joins Colleagues in Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act
Bill Bolster Protections for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) joined his colleagues in introducing the reauthorization and modernization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bill would reauthorize and robustly fund VAWA grant programs, prevent and address domestic violence and sexual assault, and support victims.
“Women make up roughly half of our state, and the statistics show that more than half of them have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence,” said Senator Sullivan. “The numbers are likewise horrific across our nation. This important ten-year reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act increases resources for survivors and works to combat the epidemic of murdered and missing Native women in Alaska and across the country. I’m pleased that the Choose Respectinitiatives that I authored were also included. These three provisions – found under the Choose Respect Title of the bill – address specific challenges, including combatting the cultural acceptance of violence, the lack of legal representation afforded to victims, and the ability of perpetrators to evade court orders. This reauthorization deserves the support of every member of the Senate and I look forward to its swift passage.”
The proposed VAWA reauthorization incorporates three bills authored by Senator Sullivan as part of his national Choose Respect initiative. The first would create a national media campaign focused on preventing and responding to violence against women, including spreading awareness of legal and other assistance for survivors. October 1 would also be designated as “Choose Respect Day.”
The second Sullivan provision would substantially expand the availability of legal assistance for survivors of domestic violence by ensuring that the Legal Assistance for Victims grant program under the federal Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) is robustly funded, distributed to organizations in every state, and that the maximum number of survivors are helped. This provision ensures that survivors across the nation receive legal assistance in matters that arise directly from their victimization, including divorce, custody, housing, health care, and obtaining a protection order.
The third Sullivan provision would require a study of the service process of protection orders and possible improvements in efficiency and safety through the use of electronic service methods. Currently, protection orders are often difficult, dangerous, and expensive to serve upon perpetrators. Electronic service – through email, text, or even social media – may have significant benefits for survivors who urgently need protection.
“As a survivor and someone who worked at a victim’s shelter during my time in college, I have a clear understanding of how vital it is for survivors to have resources and support in what can be some of the darkest times of their lives,” said Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). “Reauthorizing VAWA shouldn’t be a partisan issue—we should be putting the wellbeing of women and children of sexual and domestic violence first. That’s what this bill does; it’s a practical solution that focuses on survivors, not politics. Our bill will dramatically increase resources for survivors, punish abusers, and provide greater support for our rural communities in Iowa and across the country. I’m optimistic that my colleagues—Republican and Democrat—will join me in getting this vitally important bill signed into law.”
The reauthorization of VAWA was introduced by Senator Ernst, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
- Reauthorizes VAWA programs for 10 years with on average 10% more funding than alternative VAWA reauthorizations, including triple funding for rape-related programs and for rural focused programs.
- Expands VAWA coverage to include sex trafficking as a form of sexual assault.
- Combats revenge pornography by empowering victims through copyright enforcement.
- Includes Savanna’s Act to combat the epidemic of murdered and missing Native women by increasing law enforcement coordination.
- Includes the SURVIVE Act which increases set-aside resources for tribal victim assistance.
- Holistically addresses female genital mutilation by clarifying and increasing the federal penalty.
# # #
Next Article Previous Article