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The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) first passed with bipartisan support in 1994. VAWA addresses gender-based violence, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Gender-based violence in the U.S.

Domestic violence

In the U.S., an average of 50 women are shot to death by an intimate partner every month.

Dating violence

More than 7 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.

Sexual assault

More than 1 in 3 women in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their life


An estimated 16% of women have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Here’s what VAWA has funded:

The training of more than 700,000 judges, prosecutors, and police providing frontline response to violence. Over the course of two years, more than 45,000 attorneys and law students were trained to better represent domestic violence victims in court

Services for survivors. An estimated 1 million hotline calls have been answered and 2 million shelter bed-nights have been provided to survivors & their children every year.

Prevention efforts. North Carolina ensured sustainability of its consent-based curriculum by partnering with the public school system to implement sexual violence prevention curriculum in every 8th grade class.


VAWA’s last reauthorization was in 2013.

VAWA must be reauthorized every five years. Each reauthorization includes important changes. VAWA was last reauthorized in 2013 with the following improvements:

Affirmed the right of tribes to prosecute non-native perpetrators of domestic violence on tribal land.

Civil rights protection

  • Guaranteed consistent application of civil rights protections to all VAWA programs, in place of the patchwork of inconsistent civil rights protections that had been in place
  • Ensures that no one can be denied services based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.

Enhanced protections for immigrants.

  • Strengthened the U-visa by adding stalking to the list of covered crimes
  • Strengthened the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) to offer protections for foreign fiancés and fiancées of U.S. citizens to keep them from entering abusive marriages


Here’s what’s happening with VAWA now:

In 2019, Rep. Karen Bass (D) introduced VAWA’s reauthorization, H.R. 1585. The bill includes key improvements across six areas: tribal, housing, education and prevention, economic justice, criminal justice, and reducing homicides/protecting public safety.