Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Time to Get Serious About Domestic Violence


Domestic violence is one of the most common forms of violence endured by women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one-fourth of U.S women will endure an abusive relationship, while some 1,300 people are killed each year by intimate partners. Thankfully, we have come a long way since the 1970s, when laws did not directly prohibit domestic violence, police often failed to respond, and few resources were available to victims. Yet we stand at the brink of losing much of that progress if Congress does not act now to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

First enacted in 1994, VAWA was the first federal legislation to acknowledge domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes. It provides federal resources to encourage community-coordinated responses to address these issues, including support for victim services and training of law enforcement. In 2000, VAWA was reauthorized and included several new provisions, including legal assistance for victims, expansion of the definition of the crimes to cover dating violence and stalking, attention on trafficking of persons and assistance to trafficking victims through T and U visas.

Another reauthorization occurred in 2005, which added new provisions specifically aimed at helping immigrant victims. It allows undocumented immigrant victims who have endured abuse at the hands of an intimate partner to self-petition for residency status. This critical provision was incorporated because many times abusers bring victims to the U.S. and promise to complete the required paperwork yet instead use their victim’s status as yet another tool of power and control. These victims often remain in dangerous situations out of fear of deportation or loss of child custody. The self-petition provision of VAWA lets these victims obtain documentation that allows them to legally drive and work. Given that many victims stay with abusers because they cannot financially support themselves, the ability to drive and work means these women and men can be independent.

Despite its name, the provisions of VAWA help men, women and children. Administered by the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), an estimated 250,000 victims are served annually through VAWA.

VAWA works, according to advocates in the field. The White House notes that the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which was established through the VAWA, has received over three million calls, with more than 22,000 each month. For 92% of callers, it is the first time they have called anyone for help. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1994 and 2010, rates of intimate partner violence decreased 64%.

I am Board Chair for No More Tears, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides individualized assistance to victims of domestic violence. Based in South Florida, No More Tears has, since its inception in 2006, helped 254 survivors and more than 600 children escape from abuse. The organization offers numerous supports for victims and their children as they seek to remain safe and independent. One of the most important resources that No More Tears’ victims have utilized is VAWA.

No More Tears’ staff and board members have seen first-hand the impact of VAWA. Several victims the organization assisted who received the benefits of VAWA have pursued educational opportunities and are working in careers of their choice. They are financially stable, and, most importantly, they and their children are safe. Other organizations have noted the same impact of VAWA, which is why hundreds of organizations across the nation are encouraging Congress to reauthorize VAWA.

The time is now. Congress is debating VAWA and despite widespread support (with all of the women in the Senate except Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) co-sponsoring the legislation) some still oppose it. Opposition rests largely on the fact that VAWA provides assistance to undocumented immigrants and to Native Americans and LGBT persons. This partisan squabbling is appalling in so many ways, not least of which is the fact that failing to reauthorize VAWA is a huge step back, a return to times when victims had little choice but to endure their partner’s violence. On February 4, 2013, eight Senators voted against moving to debate on the bill: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID).

This is an opportunity for Congress to promote justice—for victims and for communities. Please don’t let Senate Republicans stand in the way of safety and a better life for those who have been harmed by the very people who are supposed to love them. Contact these Senators and implore them to reauthorize VAWA. Do it today. And tell everyone you know to do it. It just might save the life of someone you know and love.

Laura L. Finley, Ph.D., Sociology and Criminology, Barry University, is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017