Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) joined introduction of the bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This critical, long-term legislation reaffirms protections for all women, men and children, and includes vital improvements to address gaps in current law that have been identified by victims, survivors and advocates to keep our communities safe.
“No woman, no child and no family should fear for their life because of domestic violence,” said Dingell. “We desperately need Congress to reauthorize VAWA. I spend a lot of time with groups that need this bill, and they are worried and in crisis about budget cuts. Without updates or support for the critical programs in VAWA we are moving backwards, good programs helping victims have one more stress point, and one more fear to add to the pile. VAWA has always been a bipartisan effort. It’s going to be hard work – but we need to update and extend VAWA.”
The package includes two provisions written and led by Dingell. The bipartisan Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act closes loopholes that make it easier for perpetrators of dating violence and those convicted of misdemeanor stalking to legally access guns. Dingell expanded on the health titles in the bill to strengthen the healthcare system’s identification, assessment and response to domestic violence, sexual assault and dating violence survivors with an expanded focus on accessing behavioral health and safety resources across the lifespan.
“People with a history of domestic violence shouldn’t have access to guns,” Dingell continued. “Seventy-six percent of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner, experienced stalking in the year prior to their murder – there are signs. Closing loopholes that allow stalkers to access guns will save lives. Period.”
“The Health provisions in this bill strengthen the healthcare system’s identification, assessment and response to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence. Studies show a strong correlation between those receiving mental health and substance abuse services and the likelihood of domestic violence as the root cause. Provisions in this bill bring together our fragmented mental health and domestic violence systems so we can best serve survivors,” Dingell concluded. “There is no reason a survivor should face hurdles when trying to connect with the services they need to recover.”
An archived live-stream of the Capitol Hill press event marking the introduction is available here.
This reauthorization fulfills Congress’s responsibility to protect all Americans by reaffirming protections for every woman, as well as including vital improvements to address gaps in current law that have been identified by victims, survivors and advocates. This bipartisan bill:
- Improves the services available for victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking;
- Expands the housing protections and financial assistance available for victims and survivors;
- Improves protections for Native women, including by reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking;
- Expands firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence, misdemeanor stalking, or subject to protective orders from possessing firearms; and,
- Invests in tools and resources for law enforcement and evidence-based prevention programs that make our communities safer.
A fact sheet on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 is available here.
This press release has been updated.