The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 Introduced to the US Senate
Earlier this month, the federal Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 was introduced with bipartisan support. The VAWA was initially enacted in 1994 and was the first federal attempt to provide protections for targets of domestic assault. It has since been expanded and reauthorized multiple times with broadened definitions and availability of resources for those who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.
The Office on Violence Against Women, which is part of the Department of Justice, oversees the federal resources and grants funded by the VAWA. Since its initial enaction in 1994, the VAWA has provided over $9 billion in federal grants to local, state, tribal, and federal programs that provide victim advocacy, education, housing programs, and other forms of support to those who have been subjected to interpartner and domestic violence. Funding for victim support from the VAWA has also since been extended to males, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and immigrant residents.
According to a 2018 report by the Oklahoman, a person is killed in incidents related to domestic violence on average every five days in Oklahoma and nearly 40% of Oklahoma women have experienced physical interpartner violence. In a 2022 report by World Population Review, the overall state rate of domestic violence against women was 49% and 40% against men, making Oklahoma the state with the highest rate of domestic violence. In 2021, over $20 million in VAWA funding was allotted to Oklahoma-based domestic and interpartner violence intervention services, much of which was awarded to tribal or rural-based agencies.
Many Oklahoma programs receiving VAWA funding provide much-needed resources and services to those subjected to domestic violence. The AST Rising Warrior Department of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe provides victim advocacy, housing assistance, and other resources to Native American individuals at risk for domestic violence. Stillwater Domestic Violence Services manages Wings of Hope, a family crisis center that provides counseling, shelter, and other services to individuals in rural Oklahoma who are also at risk. The passing of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 would likely continue to provide necessary funding to these Oklahoma organizations and others. As of the publication of this article the federal bill has been introduced to the United States Senate, but has yet to be passed. For more information on the act and contact information for your US Senator, visit the US Congress website here.