Fix VAWA Now! - Why This Campaign?
"We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women."
– Angela Moore Parmley, PhD, Department of Justice
First passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has failed to live up to expectations. At best, VAWA has been ineffective in curbing partner violence.1 At worst, it has become one of the most harmful pieces of social legislation ever passed in the United States.
Certainly, some victims of domestic violence have been helped. But as documented in numerous studies and reports, the law has proven to be harmful to victims, women, men, children, and African-American communities:
- Harmful to Victims
- A Harvard University study concluded that mandatory arrest laws increase partner homicides by 54%.2
- Harmful to Women
- Women in abuse shelters complain they have been subjected to sexual advances by shelter staff and physical assaults by other residents.3
- Harmful to Men
- Millions of men have been falsely accused of domestic violence,4 and male victims of partner violence have been denied services.5
- Harmful to Children
- Children have been left to grow up in single-parent households, thanks to false allegations of abuse.6
- Harmful to African-American Communities
- Black communities have been devastated by harsh law enforcement and criminal justice approaches.7
Domestic violence laws have also proven harmful to some of our most cherished institutions and values, as well:
- Harmful to Families
- Millions of families have been broken up by intrusive domestic violence laws that prohibit couples counseling and mediation.8
- Harmful to the Justice System
- Due process and equal protection under the law have been replaced with "guilty until proven innocent."9
- Harmful to the Truth
- Research shows women are at least as likely as men to engage in intimate partner aggression.10 But the domestic violence industry strenuously denies that truth.11
Each year our nation spends $4 billion in the fight against intimate partner violence.12 It is good that our nation takes the problem seriously. But our approach has been deeply flawed.
The Violence Against Women Act requires a systematic overhaul. It needs to be changed so victims of violence are helped, so women in abuse shelters are healed, so men are not falsely accused and turned away from getting help, so children are raised by loving and fit parents, so families are safeguarded, so the rule law is respected, and so the truth is upheld.
Fix VAWA Now!
Iyengar R. Does the certainty of arrest reduce domestic violence? Evidence from mandatory and recommended arrest laws. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2007.
Fiebert MS. References examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners: An annotated bibliography. Long Beach, CA: Department of Psychology, California State University, 2008. http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm