The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Since its enactment, VAWA programs, administered by the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS), have dramatically improved federal, tribal, state, and local responses to these crimes.
Through the original bill, which passed in 1994, VAWA created the first U.S. federal legislation acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes and provided federal resources to encourage community-coordinated responses to combating violence. Its reauthorization in 2000 improved the foundation established by VAWA 1994 by creating a much-needed legal assistance program for victims and by expanding the definition of crime to include dating violence and stalking. Its subsequent reauthorization in 2005 took a more holistic approach to addressing these crimes and created new programs to meet the emerging needs of communities working to prevent violence. Included in the 2005 reauthorization were new focus areas such as prevention, landmark housing protections for survivors, funding for rape crisis centers, and culturally- and linguistically-specific services. VAWA 2013 ensured the continuation and improvement of these vital, lifesaving programs and expanded provisions to meet the needs of more victims.