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key legislation

National Legislation Affecting Victims and Survivors of Violence


The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

In 1994, Congress passed Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, better known as the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA. VAWA was passed not only to stem the tide of ever-increasing violence against women but also to encourage societal change. VAWA created new programs to help law enforcement fight violence against women, provided grant money for the same purpose, strengthened penalties, and prohibited criminal activities that had not been previously recognized legally. It has been reauthorized three times. Its reauthorizations expanded VAWA to combat sex-trafficking, gave some tribal courts jurisdiction over non-Native perpetrators who committed violence against women on tribal lands, authorized money to address the rape-kit processing backlog, established a nondiscrimination requirement for programs receiving VAWA grant money, and created a ‘rape shield’ law. Since the implementation of VAWA, intimate partner violence against women declined 72%!

For a quick fact sheet, click here

For a more extensive description, click here.

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA)

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) is the primary source of federal funding for domestic violence direct service providers. It was created by Congress as part of the Child Abuse Amendments of 1984 and is reauthorized every five years. The Family and Youth Services Bureau (part of the Administration for Children and Families) oversees FVPSA and administers grants to states/territories, tribes, state domestic violence coalitions, and resource centers. 70% of the funding goes to states/territories; the states/territories then allocate the money they receive to service providers, including shelters and non-residential programs. FVPSA-funded programs provide direct services to over 1.3 million victims annually, respond to 2.7 million crisis calls, and educate almost 5 million adults and youth.

For a short summary of FVPSA, click here.

For a longer analysis, click here.
Click here for the FVPSA website.

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)

In 1984, Congress passed, and President Reagan signed into law, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). VOCA established the Crime Victims Fund to assist and compensate victims/survivors of crime. The fund is comprised of federal criminal fines, forfeited bonds, forfeiture of profits from criminal activity, additional special assessments and donations by private parties. The Office for Victims of Crime oversees the fund and distributes the money in the form of formula grants to states and territories. The states then use this money to a) fund victim services including domestic violence shelters other domestic violence direct service providers and b) to compensate victims for crime-related losses including medical and counseling costs and lost wages.

For more information about VOCA, click here. 

To Reach Your Legislators, contact them below:

Crapo, Mike - (R - ID)

239 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6142

Click here to send an email.

Risch, James E. - (R - ID)

483 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2752
Click here to send an email.

Simpson, Mike, (R - ID)

2084 Rayburn House Office Building,

Washington, D.C. 20515


Click here to send an email.

What do I say in a letter
or an e-mail?
  1. Introduce yourself. The reader should know your name, where you’re from and, if you are calling on behalf of a particular organization, the name of the organization.

  2. Tell your legislator what you want - be specific! Include the bill number, bill name (if applicable), a one or two sentence summary, a few statistics for good measure, and discuss why the bill is important to you.

  3. Make it personal! Do you have any stories about the issue at hand, or do you know people who do? Share those stories!

  4. Be brief! Share a story, but be sure to be concise. The reader will have limited time.

  5. Thank your legislator for his/her time.

  6. If you are writing a traditional (not e-mail) letter, send or fax it to the DC office.

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