Senator helped pass legislation in 1994, which has helped millions of women
“If the last 20 years have shown us anything, it’s that VAWA works. I am proud of it and am so happy to mark this important milestone,” Senator says
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee, today commemorated the 20th anniversary of the bipartisanViolence Against Women Act (VAWA), which helps protect women and families from domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence. Senator Mikulski played a leading role cosponsoring the legislation which was originally enacted on September 13, 1994. As Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski puts funds in the federal checkbook to support the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women and programs authorized through VAWA.
“Today we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark piece of legislation that continues to improve the lives of millions of women, their families, and the communities that support them. If the last 20 years have taught us anything, it’s that VAWA works,” Senator Mikulski said. “This legislation stands today as an example of what we are really called here to do – meeting people’s day-to-day needs. That means protecting people, making their lives better and providing vital resources to those in need. No woman in this country should live in fear that her partner will hurt or kill her or her kids. I have zero tolerance for domestic violence. If you are beaten and abused, you should have somewhere to turn for help and a path to recovery.”
As a cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, Senator Mikulski has continued to fight against domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, crimes of epidemic proportions that are exacting terrible costs on individual lives and our communities. Twenty-five percent of women in the U.S. report that they have been physically assaulted by an intimate partner during their lifetimes, one in six have been the victims of attempted or completed rape, and the cost of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year.
Senator Mikulski provided $430 million in the fiscal year (FY)2015 CJS Appropriations bill to support programs authorized through VAWA. The bill funds multiple competitive and formula grant programs that support state domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions, rape prevention programs, national domestic violence hotlines, battered women’s shelters and transitional housing support services, help for teens and young adults caught in abusive relationships, victims of child abuse, training for police officers and prosecutors, and funding to provide rape victims with counselors during trials.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides confidential and free lifesaving tools and immediate support seven days a week. Callers to the Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) can expect highly trained experienced advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in over 170 languages.
Senator Mikulski’s statement submitted to the Congressional Record follows:
“Today we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark piece of legislation that continues to improve the lives of millions of women, their families, and the communities that support them. I was proud to cosponsor this legislation when it was originally enacted in 1994, led by then-Senator, now-Vice President Biden. And I was proud to fight for its reauthorizations in 2000, 2005 and 2013, each time refining and building upon the great work that VAWA does each day.
“This legislation stands today as an example of what we are really called here to do – meeting people’s day-to-day needs. That means protecting people, making their lives better and providing vital resources to those in need. No woman in this country should live in fear that her partner will hurt or kill her or her kids. I have zero tolerance for domestic violence. If you are beaten and abused, you should have somewhere to turn for help and a path to recovery.
“VAWA is crucial in all of our communities. Everyday VAWA is providing services to families in desperate need. I hear from my constituents far too often about the challenges they are facing, often involving significant economic struggles only to be complicated by deep emotional pain and fear.
“Here are the statistics: one in four women will be victims of domestic violence. Sixteen million children are exposed to domestic violence every day. And over two million will be victims themselves of physical or sexual violence each year. Twenty-thousand of these cases are in my own state of Maryland. Since we created the legislation in 1994, the national hotline has received millions of calls. Millions of women felt in danger and had the chance of being rescued.
“In my own state of Maryland, VAWA is making recovery possible for victims by finding them legal help to separate from their abusers. They are also getting vital services at rape crisis centers and navigating our immigration system to ensure protection.
“Through the years I have heard from too many Marylanders about their struggles. Fortunately, VAWA programs existed to help them. I heard from one of my constituents, Jean on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Jean was married to her husband for 10 years and shared two children. She benefited from VAWA’s Legal Assistance for Victims Grant after being abused so brutally one evening. Jean called the hotline and got the legal assistance to file for a protective order, which she ultimately was awarded and is now living her life safely with her children.
“I also heard from Danielle. Danielle was sexually assaulted at the age of 19 by an associate that she knew. She was aided by VAWA’s Sexual Assault Services program when she made the connection with the rape crisis center a few days after her attack. Danielle got the support she needed at the crisis center. She received personalized safety planning and counseling and was provided a lawyer to help her get a peace order.
“I also hear from law enforcement in Maryland who say VAWA is helping them make communities safer. The Lethality Assessment Program, pioneered in Maryland and now a model for the nation, was strengthened in the last VAWA reauthorization. The program is used to identify high risk situations at the outset to link up local police with domestic violence professionals to provide wrap around services and empowerment to get victims out of harm’s way and reduce homicides. This was made possible because of VAWA, which provided the federal funding to make this a reality.
“As Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, I have secured funding for the Violence Against Women Act programs at the highest levels ever. These programs ensure tougher penalties for abusers, coordinated assistance with community organizations, and court advocates for abused women to boost reporting and prosecution.
“In the FY2015 CJS spending bill I provided a robust $430 million for Violence Against Women grants, continuing a strong commitment to VAWA programs. I also provide strong investments in core VAWA programs including: $195 million for STOP formula grants, which coordinates community response to domestic violence and also trains police, prosecutors and judicial staff, $30 million for sexual assault services that direct services for victims of rape, $26 million for transitional housing grants so victims have safe and affordable housing after shelters, and $50 million for Grants to Encourage Arrests, which teaches police and prosecutors how to support victims and ensure offender accountability.
“So today, as we mark 20 years of VAWA, we reflect on what it has done for families across our country and women in desperate need. But we also reflect with the renewed knowledge that the programs that have been in place are reducing domestic violence and improving outcomes. If the last 20 years have shown us anything, it’s that VAWA works. I am proud of it, and am so happy to mark this important milestone.”