I applaud the bipartisan group of Senators who have joined together to introduce the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA), following passage last year of a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives to renew and significantly strengthen this essential law.  I am especially grateful to Senators Feinstein, Ernst, Durbin, and Murkowski for their ongoing leadership and commitment. I commend the tremendous dedication of advocates and honor the courage and resilience of survivors who have been on the frontlines of advocacy efforts to improve laws and work toward creating a society where everyone has an opportunity to thrive without fear of violence or abuse.  I urge the Senate to move quickly to get this passed. 

When I first wrote and championed the original VAWA legislation, it helped break a dam of congressional and cultural resistance that too often saw domestic violence as a ‘family issue,’ with legal and social burdens placed on survivors rather than perpetrators.  In the nearly three decades since its passage, the law has been reauthorized three times with broad bipartisan support.  Each time, I have helped work to strengthen its protections — expanding access to safety and resources for all survivors, particularly those from marginalized communities. And while studies have shown that domestic violence and sexual assault rates have declined significantly since VAWA took effect, we know that we still have work to do.

The VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022 will expand prevention efforts and protections for survivors, including those from underserved communities, and will provide increased resources and training for law enforcement and our judicial system.  It will strengthen rape prevention and education efforts, support rape crisis centers, improve the training of sexual assault forensic examiners, and broaden access to legal services for all survivors, among other things.

Combatting domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking should not be a Democratic issue or Republican issue. It’s a matter of justice and compassion.  I am grateful that this critical bipartisan bill is moving forward, and I look forward to Congress delivering it to my desk without delay.

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