The Obama Administration’s Commitment to Combating Violence Against Women
Ensuring life-saving services to victims of domestic violence and their children
- In 2010, President Obama signed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which included reauthorization of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) FVPSA funds nearly 1,700 shelters and service programs for victims of domestic violence and their children. It also supports the National Domestic Violence Hotline, whose staff and volunteers answer more than 23,000 calls for help each month and link victims with the resources they need to rebuild their lives.
- In August 2011, as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services announced historic new guidelines that will ensure women receive preventive health services without additional cost, including domestic violence screening and counseling.
- In October of 2011, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development collaborated to hold town hall meetings in ten regions of the country to promote the role of men in speaking out about violence against women.
Engaging colleges and universities in the effort to end dating violence and sexual assault
- On April 4, 2011, Vice President Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan introduced comprehensive guidance to help schools, colleges and universities better understand their obligations under federal civil rights laws to prevent and respond to the problem of campus sexual assault.
- The Vice President launched the 1is2many initiative in September 2011 on Twitter and through the White House website with a call to college students to take actions against dating violence and sexual assault.
Utilizing the latest technology to reach youth
- In summer 2011, Vice President Biden, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched the “Apps Against Abuse” technology challenge – a nationwide competition to develop an innovative software application, or “app,” that provides young adults with tools to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence. The winners, Circle of 6 and On Watch, were announced by the Vice President on November 1. More information about these apps can be found at the HHS website.
- In September 2011, the Department of Justice announced the expansion of the National Dating Violence Helpline to respond to calls, chats and texts for from teens and young adults 24-7. The Department of Justice provided funding to enable this expansion as a part of the Vice President’s call to federal agencies to better serve teens and young adults.
Working to include law enforcement and the justice system in response to domestic violence and sexual assault
- In July 2010, the President signed the Tribal Law and Order Act, which helps to address crime in tribal communities and places a strong emphasis on decreasing violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) provides ongoing federal leadership to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
- OVW administers grant programs that work to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable through promoting a coordinated community response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
- Funding is provided to local and state and tribal governments, courts, non-profit organizations, community-based organizations, secondary schools, institutions of higher education, and state and tribal coalitions.
- These entities work toward developing more effective responses to violence against women through activities that include direct services, crisis intervention, transitional housing, legal assistance to victims, court improvement, and training for law enforcement and courts.
- In January 2012, the Department of Justice modernized the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report definition of rape. The new definition is more inclusive, better reflects state criminal codes, and focuses on the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape.For the first time, rapes of men and boys will be included in our national crime statistics. The old definition- which only covers rape of women by force- did not capture the true impact of this crime. The revised definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical capacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol, or because of age.
Improving the response to domestic violence in the federal workplace
- In April 2012, President Obama announced new efforts to help combat and prevent domestic violence in the federal workplace. The presidential memorandum requires federal agencies to develop policies to address the effects of domestic violence and provide assistance for employees who may be experiencing domestic violence. These policies will also serve as a model for private sector employers. Read the memorandum here.
Addressing the intersection between HIV/AIDS and violence against women and girls
- In March 2012, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum establishing an interagency working group that will build on current agency programs addressing the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-based health disparities by improving data collection, research, and intervention and prevention strategies. The working group will develop recommendations to help inform the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Read the memorandum here.
Raising awareness about domestic violence, teen dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking
- Each year since taking office, President Obama has delivered a proclamation recognizing October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, asking that all Americans do their part to end domestic violence in this country by supporting their communities' efforts to assist victims in finding the help and healing they need. Read the proclamations here: 2011, 2010, 2009
- April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, which President Obama has recognized with a proclamation each year, announcing that together, we can increase awareness about sexual violence, decrease its frequency, punish offenders, help victims, and heal lives. Read the proclamations here :2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
- February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Each year since 2011, President Obama has delivered a proclamation, calling on all Americans to support efforts in their communities and schools, and in their own families, to empower young people to develop healthy relationships throughout their lives and to engage in activities that prevent and respond to teen dating violence. Read the proclamations here: 2012, 2011
- In 2011, President Obama became the first president to proclaim January National Stalking Awareness Month, calling on all Americans to learn to recognize the signs of stalking, acknowledge stalking as a serious crime, and urge those impacted not to be afraid to speak out or ask for help. Read the proclamations here: 2012, 2011