CONGRESS MUST RENEW ITS COMMITMENT TO HELPING
OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
American Bar Association
When the Violence Against Women Act was enacted in 1994, the federal
government for the first time adopted a comprehensive approach to fighting
violence against women.
The Act imposed new funding eligibility requirements on state and local
governments and authorized grants for education and training for criminal
and civil justice personnel. It provided new or increased funding for a
range of programs including safe homes for women, shelter grants, rape
prevention, and other community programs. The purpose underlying all these
funding efforts was to encourage community service agencies to work
together to develop cohesive and coordinated services for victims of
The programs created under the Act have made an incredible difference
in the lives of many Americans. Services have been created that directly
impact and enhance safety for countless battered women and their children,
and society now views domestic violence much differently than in 1994.
Domestic violence is no longer acceptable. Law enforcement officers
have been trained to respond to domestic violence as the violent crime it
is. Courts now seriously consider domestic violence in both criminal and
civil cases. Medical providers view domestic violence for the health care
issues it presents. Child protective workers acknowledge the extreme and
devastating impact domestic violence exacts on children, and agree that
violence intervention in homes will result in safer schools and streets.
Employers recognize that domestic violence not only impacts the safety of
a victimized employee, but may also jeopardize other employees and
business patrons -- not to mention the company’s bottom line. We are all
safer and more productive because of the Violence Against Women Act.
The Act is scheduled to expire on October 1, 2000, unless Congress
reauthorizes it. Reauthorization has been negotiated over the entirety of
the 1999-2000 legislative session, with committee action finally taking
place in June. No real disagreement now exists over whether the Act should
be reauthorized. But there are only 22 legislative days left in this
legislative session; Congress must act without further delay to
reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
Editor's Note: For verification, or if you have questions, please
call Anne Nicholas, ABA Media Relations and Communication Services,
202/662-1092, or send email to [email protected]. If you use this guest editorial, we would be grateful to receive
a tearsheet or other copy: Anne Nicholas, American Bar Association, 740
15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005.