Fifteen years ago Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation to address domestic violence and other forms of violence against women. Called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), this legislation has done a great deal to increase awareness of violence against women, hold perpetrators accountable, and create new programs and services to help victims find paths to safety. Yet violence continues to haunt the lives of many women in this country and around the world, threatening their physical well-being and destroying their hopes for the future. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women in the United States will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Approximately 1.3 million women each year experience physical assault by an intimate partner. These numbers may be on the rise, as violence against women tends to increase during recessions, while resources for victims diminish. Far too many women are still being hurt and live in danger.
During October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we need to recognize the significant gains made possible by VAWA in the past fifteen years, and to remember how much more work needs to be done before the women of our country and our world –- mothers, sisters, friends, daughters–can live in safety.
Dr. Cynthia Hess, IWPR Study Director
Dr. Hess wrote an article entitled “Taking Stalking Seriously” which will be published in the December edition of the Domestic Violence Report.