Press Releases

Violence Against Women Act Signed Into Law, Expanding Local Resources to Support Survivors

Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as part of the bipartisan fiscal year 2022 appropriations omnibus, which was signed into law this week by President Joe Biden. Reauthorizing VAWA, which had lapsed in 2019, has been one of Wexton's top priorities, as the legislation delivers critical resources for organizations that provide legal assistance, survivor support services, and domestic violence education and prevention initiatives.

Experts estimate that one in three women in the U.S. experience domestic violence, and hotlines and resource centers across the country have seen a spike in cases during the COVID crisis.

“As a former prosecutor, I’ve fought to support survivors and hold abusers accountable throughout my career,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act has been one of my top priorities in Congress, so I’m immensely proud that we’re delivering new resources for victim services organizations to provide support services and legal assistance, funding education and prevention programs, and enhancing law enforcement’s ability to respond to abusers. We’re sending a message to all survivors that they are not alone and help is out there.”

The reauthorization of VAWA passed by Congress includes provisions to:

  • Expand protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault
  • Enhance victim assistance and improve access to legal services
  • Fund prevention and prosecution programs
  • Establish a new federal civil cause of action for those whose intimate images are shared online without their consent
  • Reauthorize grant programs to improve the criminal justice response to gender-based violence
  • Provide additional resources and training programs for law enforcement responding to domestic violence incidents
  • Require the federal government to notify state and local law enforcement when a convicted domestic abuser illegally attempts to buy a gun

Communities across the country have seen a significant rise in calls to domestic violence hotlines and police during COVID, as the public health emergency coupled with increased stress and anxiety from the financial burdens has made day to day life even more dangerous, and stay at home orders left many survivors isolated or trapped with an abuser. Wexton has authored bipartisan legislation to develop a national domestic violence prevention action plan as well as a bill to provide guidance and resources to law enforcement as they address increased levels of domestic violence during the pandemic.