Our Fight to Expand the Violence Against Women Act
Sexual assault and domestic violence occur at epidemic rates in the US and far too many survivors are denied justice. Take Rape Seriously NOW is our campaign advocating to change this reality. We are on the front lines with our initiatives to fight drug-facilitated sexual assault; to assist with direct services to survivors of sexual assault; to provide resources through our Helpline and our #HealMeToo campaign; and to expand the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
In 2017, we launched a campaign to protect the vital programs funded by VAWA. This landmark legislation, enacted in 1994 with bipartisan support. made fighting violent crimes against women a federal priority for the first time in history. VAWA has transformed how government responds to domestic and sexual violence, serving as a model for similar legislation around the world.
In this #MeToo moment, we must continue to stress the need for progress and more funding to end the endemic of gender violence in the US. Therefore, this campaign calls on the New York congressional delegation to continue fully funding VAWA, implement it with the vigor of every other administration since its inception, and oppose any legislation or budget cuts that would seek to reverse the rights and jeopardize the safety of women.
This past year, we hosted a series of Women’s Town Halls across the state with survivors and service providers who told their stories and provided testimony for our Congressional white paper on protecting VAWA. The testimonies delivered at our Women’s Town Halls are real-life proof that we need more investment in Violence Against Women Act initiatives, not less.
- New York State has benefited tremendously from VAWA grants. In 2016 alone, the state received $7.7 million in federal funding, an increase of $662,000. This money supports survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault through programs offered by non-profit organizations, hospitals, universities, and law enforcement agencies across the state.
- VAWA has been a lifeline for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, covering everything from law enforcement training for investigating rape cases, college campus rape prevention programs, domestic violence shelters, and rape crisis counseling.
- As Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in charge of VAWA but as a senator he voted against the re-authorization in 2013 due to the addition of these 3 provisions: (1) visas for immigrant women fleeing abusers; (2) non-discrimination provisions for LGBTQ+ survivors; and (3) protections for Native American survivors.
- The Trump administration’s budget is unclear how funding for VAWA programs will be affected, though these life-saving programs cost less than one tenth of 1% of our 2017 federal budget. However, one noticeable change was a decrease from $21 million to $4 million for a firearms reduction initiative. Considering that the presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide by 500%, the consequences will literally be deadly for women and children. In fact, over half of women murdered with guns are killed by family members or intimate partners.
As we prepare to send our report to our Congressional leaders, we ask you to please sign our petition to save VAWA and protect vital programs from funding cuts.
To learn more about our campaign, read:
NOW New York President Sonia Ossorio’s Op-Ed on Why We Must Protect VAWA – Huffington Post – April 14, 2017
NOW Rips Trump on Domestic Violence Funding in Manhattan – Observer – March 20, 2017
Advocates Launch Anti-Rape Campaign – NY1 – March 20, 2017
NOW-NYC Announces Campaign to Combat Trump’s Anti-Women Agenda – March 20, 2017
NOW-NY Campaign Against Trump’s Anti-Woman Agenda – WCBS Radio – March 20, 2017
NOW-NY Fights Trump’s Plan to Cut Funds For Violence Against Women Act – Metro – March 21, 2017
For more info or for expert commentary and analysis, contact Jean Bucaria at (212) 627-9895.