Violence Against Women Act


The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law aimed at ending violence against women and remedying the laws and social practices that have fostered and justified the history of violence against women. VAWA was first passed in 1994, as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and it was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. The current authorization expired in 2011.

VAWA focuses on nine specific areas of intervention: enhancing judicial and law enforcement tools to combat violence against women (Title I); improving services for victims (Title II); services, protection, and justice for young victims of violence (Title III); strengthening America’s families by preventing violence (Title IV); strengthening the healthcare system’s response (Title V); housing opportunities and safety for battered women and children (Title VI); providing economic security for victims (Title VII); protection of battered and trafficked immigrants (Title VIII); and safety for Indian women (Title IX). For copies of the original Violence Against Women Act and its subsequent reauthorizations, click here.


The President signed a bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act for another 5 years on March 7, 2013. The ABA supported this bill, introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Crapo (R-ID), and sent numerous letters to the House and Senate urging its prompt passage.

ABA Policy

The ABA has a long history of responding to the epidemic of intimate partner violence by striving to promote access to justice and safety for its victims. In 1978, the ABA adopted policy supporting efforts to combat the incidence, causes and effects of family violence, and the implementation of programs to protect the victims of family violence. In February 2010, the ABA House of Delegates adopted a policy urging Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the Violence Against Women Act and similar legislation that strives to prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; enhances the tools to combat them; improves services to victims; strengthens the healthcare system’s response; provides housing opportunities and economic security for victims; and provides services, protection, and justice for underserved and vulnerable victims of violence. Most recently, in August 2012, the ABA adopted a policy urging Congress to strengthen tribal jurisdiction to address crimes of gender-based violence committee on tribal lands in the VAWA reauthorization. For a complete listing of related policies, click here.

Updated as of:

April 8, 2013