Governor Wolf: Congress Must Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act Now
September 25, 2018
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today said it would be a failure of victims if Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act before the end of the month when it is set to expire. In a letter, Governor Wolf urged the Pennsylvania delegation to stand up for victims.
“Congress is teetering on the edge of failing to provide long-held protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other relationship violence,” Governor Wolf. “Important local organizations rely on millions in funding under this law to protect thousands of Pennsylvanians. Sexual and relationship violence is a scourge on our society and it terrorizes too many women and families. Congress needs to prioritize a permanent reauthorization of this bill without any more delay.”
As you know at the end of this month, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) will expire. I write today to urge you to pass a reauthorization of this landmark federal law to continue to protect and support thousands of Pennsylvanians impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
These acts of violence happen in every community and affect individuals from every background. Research suggests that domestic violence and sexual assault carry significant costs and consequences not only for individuals, but for the commonwealth as a whole, including decreased job or academic performance caused by physical and mental health issues.
Recognizing this moral and economic imperative, we must do everything we can to ensure all women continue to have access to the services and protections provided under VAWA. In 2017, approximately $4.8 million in funding from VAWA helped more than 17,500 Pennsylvanians by providing crisis counseling, assistance with protection orders, legal advocacy and assistance, hospital and court accompaniment, safety planning, and emergency housing. Failure to reauthorize VAWA would hurt victims, who rely on life-saving services, and would make planning harder for the organizations that depend on VAWA grants to help women in crisis.
Expiration of this program would also halt two decades of work in the Commonwealth to build systemic collaboration among judicial, law enforcement, victim service, prosecutorial and healthcare personnel to respond to the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence.
All Pennsylvanians deserve to live, work, and learn in environments that are free from violence. Throughout my tenure, I have worked to support programs and policies that combat domestic violence and sexual assault, and that improve options and protections for individuals experiencing abuse. In 2016, I was proud to launch “It’s on Us PA,” a statewide campaign to address the crisis of sexual assault in schools and on college campuses. As part of this initiative, my administration has awarded nearly $2 million dollars in grants to Pennsylvania colleges and universities to combat sexual assault on campus, with another $1 million to be awarded in the 2018-19 academic year from this year’s budget. Earlier this year, I signed Tierne’s Law, strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence and I continue to call on the General Assembly in Harrisburg to fix an arcane law that allows domestic abusers to have access to guns.
We have made great strides in Pennsylvania and VAWA has played a significant role in this progress. Public awareness about sexual and domestic violence has increased; the criminal justice system’s response to these crimes has been strengthened and services for victims have been improved. Allowing VAWA to lapse would be a significant step back for women, families, and communities across the commonwealth.
I urge you to continue Pennsylvania’s commitment to ending violence against women by reauthorizing this critical piece of legislation.
Letter to Congress by on Scribd