(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today hailed the Senate passage of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Murray has been a leading voice for renewing and strengthening the Act, which first passed Congress in 1994 to create a coordinated strategy to provide domestic violence victims with the services they need to escape violent relationships.
“For far too long domestic violence was considered a private matter. That attitude hurt women, families, businesses and entire communities. Today, stopping domestic violence is everyone’s business and that is the message the Senate has sent with the reauthorization of this law,” Senator Murray said.
This newly strengthened version of the Violence Against Women Act includes – for the first time – a healthcare strategy that will train healthcare providers and medical students about how to recognize and identify domestic violence. It also provides grants to facilitate the screening of women for exposure to domestic and sexual violence and it includes the Sexual Assault Services Act to provide critical funding for direct services for sexual assault victims, including 24 hour emergency and support services.
In addition, the reauthorized bill includes language that creates a program using STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) grant funds, to be named the Crystal Judson Domestic Violence Protocol Program. These grants would be used by law enforcement agencies, victim service providers, and federal, state and local governments to address the issue of officer-involved domestic violence.
Murray has also worked to try and improve economic protections for domestic violence victims – provisions that have still not been included in VAWA or properly addressed by Congress.
“Today’s passage of VAWA is a good step forward in our efforts to prevent and protect domestic violence, but there is still much work to be done. I am disappointed that my efforts to provide economic protections for victims have been left out of this measure,” Murray said.
“We need to break down the economic barriers that trap women in abusive relationships and provide them with unemployment compensation when they lose a job due to violence beyond their control. I will continue to introduce legislation and offer amendments to provide economic protections for women.”