It’s a keeper.
Proving both durable and clearly meritorious, fundamentally important violence victims’ legislation is just about to turn 25 years old. The federal Violence Against Women Act enacted into law by former President Bill Clinton back in 1994 was reauthorized for an additional period last week by the U.S. House of Representatives. It is widely expected to achieve a similar outcome soon in the Senate.
Periodic renewal of the bill — as required by its own statutory language – has already been secured three times in the past. The legislation unquestionably commands broad public support, which has been the case since its inception a quarter century ago.
The act has spawned a number of tools and organizations that spotlight family violence and seek to maximally curb it. Those include the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Reportedly, the 1994 statute has led to a tremendous infusion of federal monies for prevention programs. Studies are funded that produce reams of relevant data. Shelters and community programs are supported. Police departments are assisted in their tracking and enforcement efforts. Billions of dollars have been earmarked for prevention and victim protection efforts.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the law, as evidenced by the debates that occur during its reauthorization periods. Critics over the years have railed against the act on many grounds. Some have charged that it is too open-ended. Others have argued that its penalties against offenders have been too stringent. Remarkably, one line of attack stressed that domestic violence was a “fad.”
Still, the Violence Against Women Act has persevered, as well as grown progressively stronger over the decades.
That is commendable. Domestic violence is anything but a fad. It is closer to a national epidemic that visits harm — too often fatal — upon its victims.
Persons concerned with domestic abuse can confidentially turn for guidance (and, when necessary, strong legal representation) to a proven family law attorney with a demonstrated record of advocacy on behalf of violence victims.