Press Release

U.S. House reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with expanded protections for women

Castor: VAWA of 2019 ‘boosts prevention and education initiatives in the #MeToo era where more women have found the courage to come forward’

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Washington, April 4, 2019 | comments
VAWA is comprehensive legislation that provides these and communities across the country with vital funding and resources to empower victims and survivors, and gives law enforcement the tools to aggressively combat domestic violence.
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Experts estimate that one in three women nationwide still experience domestic violence, one in five homicides in Florida is a result of domestic violence, and a Hillsborough County resident is the victim of a domestic violence offense every 79 minutes.

“The extent of domestic and sexual violence remains alarming, and today’s vote to reauthorize VAWA includes an expansion of the landmark law.  It boosts prevention and education initiatives in the #MeToo era where more women are empowered to come forward to report sexual battery and other crimes committed against them.  It also protects and improves key grants that provide investments for tools to help empower victims,” U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) said today after working with her colleagues to reauthorize the Violence Against Women’s Act, which now goes to the U.S. Senate.  The bipartisan measure ensures victims, survivors and law enforcement have access to essential services and justice.

“In my Tampa Bay community, we are fortunate to have numerous organizations committed daily to preventing domestic and sexual violence – they are a shining light in the darkness of these devastating crimes.  VAWA is comprehensive legislation that provides these and communities across the country with vital funding and resources to empower victims and survivors, and gives law enforcement the tools to aggressively combat domestic violence.”

VAWA originally passed 25 years ago with bipartisan support.  It is up for reauthorization about every five years, and the law has been updated and strengthened every time Congress has reauthorized it.  Since 1994, the rate of domestic violence has declined by more than 50 percent; however, the extent of domestic violence remains way too high. 

“VAWA was a game-changer for survivors of domestic violence and their children when it was introduced in 1994, and continues to be a game-changer today.  VAWA’s focus is on funding grants to improve help for both victims’ services providers like The Spring of Tampa Bay AND law enforcement, prosecutors and courts.  This means we are putting resources towards safety and shelter for survivors, but we’re also expecting systems in our communities to hold batterers accountable for their crimes,” said Mindy Murphy, President and CEO of The Spring of Tampa Bay.  “Without VAWA funding, The Spring would have fewer resources available to the almost 3,000 survivors who sought our help in the last year.  Without VAWA funding, more women and children die in Tampa Bay.  It’s really as simple as that.”

Clara Reynolds, President and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, added: “The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is thrilled to see that H.R. 1585 passed the U.S. House this week.  Our organization works directly with survivors of sexual assault and other forms of power-based violence.  The overwhelming majority of these survivors are women.  Through the years, VAWA has helped our organization achieve our mission by enabling us to provide intervention to vulnerable and underserved populations.  H.R. 1585 allocates vital grant funding, protects the Office on Violence Against Women, and closes loopholes that permit perpetrators of power-based violence to obtain deadly weapons.”

Resources available in Tampa to aid domestic and sexual violence victims:

·         The Spring Shelter – (813) 247-7233 (SAFE)

·         Crisis Center – (813) 234-1234

·         State Attorney's Office – (813) 272-5400

·         Bay Area Legal Services – (813) 232-1343

U.S. Rep. Castor has been a staunch champion of VAWA and resources for women and supporters for the prevention and elimination of domestic and sexual violence.  She was outspoken during the last reauthorization when the then Republican majority refused for too long to bring the bipartisan VAWA to the floor for a vote before it finally passed in early 2013.  In addition, she has championed protecting federal funding for legal aid in Florida and large grants for Bay Area Legal Services to help ensure that the wheels of justice turn for everyone.  She supports State Attorney Andrew Warren’s major initiative aimed at disarming domestic abusers – removing firearms from domestic violence offenders who, by law, are prohibited from having them.

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